Family Aceraceae, composed of about 200 species (in the genera Dipteronia in China and Acer across the Northern Hemisphere) of ornamental, shade, and timber trees. Maples are important ornamentals for lawns, along streets, and in parks. They offer a great variety of form, size, and foliage; many display striking autumn colour. The red maple (A. rubrum) is one of the most common trees in its native eastern North America, where it tolerates compacted wet soils and city pollution. Box elder (A. negundo) grows quickly to 30–50 ft (9–15 m) and resists drought, so early prairie settlers planted many for shade and for wood to make crates, furniture, paper pulp, and charcoal. The watery, sweet sap of the sugar maple (A. saccharum) is boiled down for syrup and sugar; the wood of certain sugar maples is used for furniture.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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