Hard or Soft Maple
Telling the two species apart before the leaves show. May 10, 2005
What is the best way to determine if a tree is hard or soft maple? The leaves are not out yet and I need to be able to tell from the bark.
From contributor G:
Last year's red maple twigs are red with red buds. Last year's hard maple twigs are tan-brown with tan-brown buds. Describing how to tell the difference in the bark between the 2 species is difficult because there is a lot of variation due to region, tree maturity and site effects.
From contributor D:
Around here, NE OK hard maples have a blackish bark and the tree holds on to its leaves during the winter. Soft maple have a grayish bark and drop their leaves during the winter.
From contributor B:
The best way to tell is to look at the buds. Soft maple or red maple has a red bud that is blunt or rounded. Hard maple or sugar maple has a brown or tan bud that has a sharp point. Also if you look at the bark and it has a "bullseye" pattern in it, it is a soft maple. You can also rub your hand on the bark. If it flakes off, it is more than likely a soft maple. If the bark stays on the tree and tries to cut your hand, it is probably a hard maple. Sometimes you can tell by the color of the bark, but since it varies region by region, I wouldn't rely on that characteristic to identify the tree. The bud method is absolutely foolproof, though.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in
any manner without permission of the Editor.
Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.
335 Bedell Road
Montrose, PA 18801
Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.