Hard maple trees are also commonly referred to as sugar maple.
Bark: The bark of a maple tree begins as a grayish-brown and darkens into a dark brown as the tree ages. The bark is like rough, separated plates with deep ridges in-between the pieces. As the tree ages, the bark starts to lift away from the tree and eventually the tree will take on a "shaggy" appearance.
Leaves: The leaves of hard maple are a dark green with a lighter green on the underside. In the fall, the leaves will turn a lovely red, yellow or orange color. They are easily identifiable by the 5 lobes (looks sort of like fingers on a hand), with 3 large lobes in the middle and 2 smaller lobes on the outer most part of the leaf. The leaves have many pointed edges that curve in and outward along the lobes. They will be from 3-5 inches long on a mature maple.
Fruit: The fruit of a hard maple tree looks takes on a horseshoe shape, starting with what looks like two small seeds stuck together that grow out into small "wings." These fruits are pea-sized and green.
We rate hard maple as a first class tree based on its current high demand in markets. Hard maple or sugar maple trees produce a high quality timber and yield maple syrup. The light-colored wood is used for furniture, flooring, cabinets, charcoal and firewood. Furthermore, some maples produce a bird's-eye or curly wood, which is high prized for its beauty.
Benefit to Forest:
Sugar maples have a very thick foliage which attracts many bugs. This makes it a good food source for birds, which hunt through the leaves for insects. It also creates a thick leaf litter which is beneficial for earthworms as they use it as a food source.