Two species of maple are common on the property where I live. On the left is a leaf from a sugar maple, Acer saccharum, the common, familiar tree that we tap to make maple syrup each spring, the one that’s on the Canadian flag. On the right is a leaf from a red maple, Acer rubrum. I love that their Latin names actually mean sugar and red – makes them easy to remember. You can easily tell them apart by their leaves if you know what to look for, because sugar maple leaves have nice smooth edges while red maple leaves have coarse teeth. S for sugar maple and smooth, R for red maple and rough! (Click to enlarge the photo if you can’t see what I’m talking about.)
Red maples are much more tolerant of wet habitats that sugar maples, and for this reason we often see them growing around the edges of the bogs.
It’s pretty striking, actually. I took this photo yesterday while walking on a trail that ran along the edge of a bog. The side of the trail facing the bog was lined with red maples and some white pines. The side of the trail away from the bog was all sugar maple and balsam fir. Ecological gradients!
Update: Tom has suggested that the particular tree whose leaf I plucked for my comparison shot may not be a pure red maple after all. See the comments. These tricky trees and their darn gene flow!