Acer, or the Maple Family. - More than forty species of Maple are known, of which ten belong to the United States, and nearly all are desirable ornamental shade trees. The common species of New England are the Red Maple, Rock Maple, and White Maple, all first-rate shade trees. We have, also, the Striped and Mountain Maple, smaller trees, not so well known as the others, and interesting in large plantations.
"The Red Maple, called also the White, Swamp, Scarlet, and the Soft Maple, is a tree of middling size, growing abundantly in the swamps and low grounds in most parts of the state. Its flowers, which appear in April or May, before the leaves, are of a bright crimson or scarlet, and make a striking appearance in whorls, or pairs, of sessile-crowned bunches, on the scarlet or purple branches. The Red Maple is usually a low, round-headed tree, of less beauty of shape than either of the other species. But the great variety of rich hues, which it assumes earlier in the fall than any other tree, gives it a conspicuous place in our many-colored landscape." It is a tree of very rapid growth, and, although it is more at home in a wet soil, succeeds very well in any common good soil. This tree is sufficiently large for streets or parks, growing in moist land to the height of eighty feet; it is highly ornamental while in flower, in seed, or in the rich autumnal tints of its foliage.
Acer dasycarpum. - White Maple. - This species is sometimes confounded with the Red Maple, but Emerson says, "It may be easily distinguished by the silvery whiteness of the under surface of the leaves, and by the color of the spray. The young shoots are of a light green, inclined to yellow, with oblong brown dots; in the second year they become finely striate with brown, and the dots enlarge. The beauty of the finely-cut foliage, the contrast between the rich green of the upper surface of the leaves and the silver color of the lower, and the magnificent spread of the limbs of the White Maple, recommend it as an ornamental tree; and it has been extensively introduced in New York, Philadelphia, and some other cities." 1 was familiar with a number of large White Maple trees, growing in Lancaster, Mass., one of which, near Centre Bridge, in a meadow-pasture, is thus described by Mr. Emerson: "In 1840 it was eighteen feet five inches in circumference at one foot from the ground, the bulging roots preventing a nearer measurement at the surface. At three feet it measured sixteen feet eight inches; at six feet, thirteen feet ten and a half inches. It divides, at a low point, into several large branches, and rises to about sixty feet."
Acer saccharinum. - The Rock or Sugar Maple. - The Rock Maple is easily distinguished from the other Maples by the roundness of the notch between the lobes of the leaves, which, in those already described, is somewhat acute. This tree, which is also called Hard Maple, from the character of its wood, and Sugar Maple, from the valuable product of its sap, is, in all respects, the most remarkable tree of the family. When young, it is a beautiful, neat, and shapely tree, with a rich, full, leafy head, of a great variety of forms, enlarging upwards, and forming a broad mass above; or, tapering at each extremity, and full in the middle, supported by an erect, smooth, agreeably-clouded column, with a clean bark, and a cheerful appearance of vigor. For shade trees, for street or park, there are none that excel the Rock Maple in the richness of its green foliage through the summer, and beautiful tints of yellow and orange in autumn, nor for the gracefulness and beauty of its proportions.