The most common native maple found in Washington Grove is the red maple. Acer rubrum is the county tree of Montgomery County and is an important tree in Maryland hardwood forests. Leaves are opposite, as with all maples, and consist of 3 to 5 toothed lobes. Fruit is contained in showy red double winged samaras (“helicopters”) that begins to develop in late spring and attracts many birds and other wildlife. An October Glory red maple cultivar was planted on the Sacred Circle near 5th Avenue in spring of 2018. Known as a shade tree and for its radiant red fall leaves, this variety may grow 40′-50′ high with a 25′-35′ spread.
Of the four varieties of large maples commonly found in Washington Grove, red maples are probably the best choice for planting.
Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is a native tree that is easy to propagate and grows faster and larger than red maple. However, it has messy bark, friable wood, and a large root system that will buckle concrete and infiltrate water pipes. Silver Maple derives its name from the gray sheen on the underside of its leaves.
Sugar maple (Acer saccarum) is a wonderful tree from which maple syrup and the leaf seen on the Canadian flag are derived. But the tree may struggle in our heat, which is likely to only worsen in coming decades.
Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is a broad, densely shading tree that for many years was planted as a lawn, street, and park tree across much of the U.S. It is non-native and can be quite invasive. Most of the maple seedlings that pop up in our yards are Norway maples. A milky sap exuded from where the leaf meets the stem helps to identify this tree.
Plants in Washington Grove, from F&B member and Master Gardener Jay Everhart