Return to the Maples Forum | Post a Follow-Up

aren't these all really just variations of the same tree..?

Posted by hairmetal4ever Z7 MD (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 22:44

Acer saccharum
Acer nigrum
Acer barbatum (aka Acer floridanum)
Acer grandidentatum
Acer leucoderme

I don't really understand species naming tradition, but compare the "Sugars" to their generic cousin, Acer rubrum.

It's widely acknowledged that lots of genetic variability exists among the rubrums...why not the saccharums? Why is rubrum just "rubrum" (well, except spp. drummondii) whereas the sugar maples are usually divided into 5 (or more, did I forget any?) species?

As a side note, I've read that the 'Caddo' ecotype is technically a that true as well?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: aren't these all really just variations of the same tree..?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 14, 13 at 14:45

These have more differences between them than are recognized within red maple. For the most part, if you've seen one red maple you've seen them all - it's pretty uniform, apart from fall leaf color variations etc.

RE: aren't these all really just variations of the same tree..?

Most people think science is always definitive, and expect to get a definite answer. That is not always the case. We know far more about cholesterol now than we did in the 70's, when the mantra was avoid all cholesterol. Now we know there are beneficial as well as much more harmful forms. However most people do not realize this is because of the learning and correction process has continued and still continues. As for the trees in your example, there is the added complication that the classification into species is purely artificial. The plants don't care. Plus speciation is a process that can go either way at a particular time. Therefore the "lines" are not always clear cut, as in the case of the Sugar Maple group. Often the answer you will get as to their species status will depend upon who you ask. Some will be "lumpers" and lump them all together into a single species with sub-species. Others will be "splitters" and consider them all as distinct species. For our purposes, use whichever you prefer, although considering them separate species could help with identification in the nursery trade. And FYI, a similar circumstance exist for many redbuds.


RE: aren't these all really just variations of the same tree..?

I did see a tree this weekend at the Maryland Zoo. I snapped a pic on my smartphone but it didn't turn out very clear.

The leaves are sugar-maple like, but slightly smaller. The samaras are a tad larger than an A. saccharum, and slightly wider of an angle, but nothing near A. platanoides.

The tree is smallish, but not particularly young. Almost looks like an A. campestre but again, the leaves and samaras are wrong.

Any guesses?

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Maples Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here