6 Types of Maple Trees in Illinois (Including Natives)

Last Updated:
Photo of author
Written By Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links. Learn more.
Home » Illinois » 6 Types of Maple Trees in Illinois (Including Natives)

Maple trees are loved for their fall color, characteristic pointed leaves, and of course for being the source of maple syrup.

With 128 estimated different kinds of maple trees, it can take time to decide which one to plant in your yard. Most maple trees have 3,5, or 7 lobes and a medium green color before changing to shades of red, orange, and yellow in the fall.

The seeds of maples are samaras, and contain a fibrous tissue that extends from the seed and acts like a wing. This allows the seeds to travel a distance from the tree, giving them the common name of helicopter.

Before you choose which types of maple trees to plant in your yard, be sure to check out IL’s hardiness map to get the most suited options for your zone.

6 Types of Maple Trees That Grow in Illinois

1. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Silver maple
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Silver Maple is a fast-growing tree that is native to parts of central, and eastern North America. Its fast growth rate makes it suitable as a shade tree. The leaves feature 5 lobes and are typically shed earlier than other maples.

They are silver on the underside and green above and turn yellow in the fall. Early spring sees the appearance of abundant yellow, silver, and red small flowers.

The Silver Maple grows in a vase shape. The roots are strong, so it should be planted away from sidewalks, septic tanks, and foundations.

Other Common Names: Swamp Maple, Creek, Silverleaf Maple, Soft Maple, Water Maple, and White Maple

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late February – early April

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red maple
Image by mirabelka szuszu via Flickr

The Red Maple can be spotted around parks and public areas and is hard to miss in the fall, thanks to its shocking crimson red foliar display. The twigs, seeds, and flowers are also red.

Red Maples have expansive root systems so should only be planted in areas with sufficient space. Red Maples are highly adaptable trees, growing in a wide of different types of soil and temperature ranges.

The wood of the Red Maple is used for musical instruments and furniture. They can also be tapped for syrup.

Other Common Names: Soft Maple, Swamp Maple, and Water Maple

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Mid-spring

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)

Striped Maple Identification images - Lyrae Willis
Images by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Striped Maple is a small understory tree or large shrub with a rounded canopy and flat top. It’s loved for its irregular bark with its green and white vertical stripes. The stripe tends to disappear as the tree ages, becoming reddish brown. In the wild, it can be found in rocky forests.

Striped Maples do best in slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soils. Being understory trees, their foliage differs from many other maples, and are large and pointed as opposed to the typical 5 points. Falls sees shades of light yellow.

Other Common Names: Goosefoot Maple, Moose Maple, and Snakebark Maple

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 ft tall and 7-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

4. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maple
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The Sugar Maple is the most popular type of maple, loved for its 5-lobed leaves which can measure up to 8” in length, their exquisite fall color, and sweet sap. They are one of the most common maple varieties found around IL.

The yellow/green leaves can turn shades in between orange, burgundy, red, green, and yellow in the fall. The crown is dense and rounded and can provide good shade.

Sugar Maples thrive in cool areas, with deep, rich, fertile soils.

Other Common Names: Sugar Maple Tree

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 ft tall and 40-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: Mid-to-late-spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)

Sycamore maple
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

Sycamore Maples have large, thick trunks up to 7ft in diameter, and can be found growing in large landscapes in IL. The leaves are dark green, with light grey/green undersides, and turn golden-yellow/red in the fall. Capable of growing up to 2 ft a year, the Sycamore Maple can be classified as a fast growing tree.

Sycamore Maples aren’t IL natives but happily grow in moist, well-drained soil, in either full sun or partial shade. The flowers are monoecious and develop on hanging racemes sometime between April and May. The branches are upright and have a spreading growth habit.

Other Common Names: Planetree Maple, and Sycamore

Growing Zones: 4b-9a

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 ft tall and 40-60 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Freeman’s Maple (Acer x freemanii)

Freeman's maple
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Freeman’s maple is a hybrid between the red and silver maple. It combines the rapid growth rate of the silver maple,and the sturdy branching and spectacular colors of the red maple (A. rubrum x A. saccharinum). It’s very common in Northern IL and around the Chicago area, according to the Morton Arboretum.

Freeman’s Maples also possess greater resistance to diseases that plague other maples such as chlorosis. The leaves are 4-6” long and wide, with 5 palmate, pointed lobes, dark green on the upper surface, and pale and smooth underneath. They typically produce little to no seeds, depending on the cultivar.

Other Common Names: Freeman Maple

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: April

Available at: Nature Hills

Maples: A True Classic

Maple trees are beloved icons in eastern North America. They are loved for their palmate leaves, unbeatable fall color, and for their deliciously sticky sweet sap. Whilst there are an estimated 128 different types of maple trees, not all of these will thrive in the state of Illinois.

Some maples may be too big to grow in the home landscape unless you are blessed with an abundance of space. If not there are some smaller maples you may be able to grow. Failing that you can admire these majestic trees in parks and public areas, or even in the wild.

Related Articles:

Photo of author

Thomas Pitto

Propagation Expert & Permaculture Enthusiast

Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn't hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.