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Quick facts

Common name: field maple

Scientific name: Acer campestre

Family: Sapindaceae

Origin: native

The bark is light brown and flaky, and twigs are slender and brown and develop a corky bark with age. Small, grey leaf buds grow on long stems. Field maples can grow to 20m and live for up to 350 years.

Look out for: new seeds which are tinged with pink and the wings on the seeds set in a straight line.

Identified in winter by: the older twigs which have corky ridges and small, grey leaf buds.

What does field maple look like?

Field maple leaves

Credit: Robert Read / WTML

Leaves 

Small, dark green and shiny, with five lobes and rounded teeth. They fade to a rich, golden yellow before falling in autumn.

Field maple flowers

Credit: Ken Leslie / WTML

Flowers

The flowers appear to be hermaphrodite, meaning that both male and female reproductive parts are contained within one flower. The flowers are small, yellow-green, cup-shaped and hang in clusters.

Field maple seeds close-up

Credit: Ben Lee / WTML

Fruits

After pollination by insects, flowers develop into large, winged fruits which are dispersed by wind.

Watch field maple budburst

Not to be confused with:

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides). An easy way to distinguish the field maple is by the leaves, which are much more rounded than those of the sycamore and Norway maple.

Child and parent looking at autumn leaves with magnifying glass

Spot the changing seasons

Have you noticed buds bursting into leaf or fruit ripening in the hedgerows? Tell us what's happening to the trees around you and help scientists track the effects of climate change on wildlife.

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Where to find field maple

The UK's only native maple, it is found growing in woods, scrub and hedgerows, and on chalk lowland. It is widely planted in gardens and parks due to its compact habit, tolerance of pollution and rich autumn colours.

Did you know?

In the Language of Flowers, maple represents the sender’s reservations.

Value to wildlife

Field maple is attractive to aphids and their predators, including many species of ladybird, hoverfly and bird. Lots of species of moth, such as the mocha, feed on its leaves. The flowers provide nectar and pollen sources for bees and birds, and small mammals eat the fruits.

Mythology and symbolism

In parts of Europe, it was thought that maple branches hung around a doorway stopped bats entering. The herbalist Culpepper recommended maple leaves and bark to strengthen the liver.

Did you know?

As with all maple trees, the sap of the field maple can be used to make maple syrup.

Uses of field maple

Field maple produces the hardest, highest-density timber of all European maples. It is a warm, creamy-brown colour with a silky shine. Traditional uses include wood-turning and carving. Its wood is also popular for making musical instruments, particularly harps.

Threats and conservation

Field maples can be affected by sycamore gall mite and can also be susceptible to a wilt caused by a soil-borne fungus.

Did you know?

Medieval superstition said that if you passed a maple branch over a child, it would remove all traces of witchcraft.