With foliage colors ranging from yellow to red and sizes from tall to short, the maple tree encompasses a variety of species and cultivars ranging across much of Canada and the U.S. Prized as both a landscape and accent tree, the maple’s lifespan depends on a number of factors.
The red maple tree (Acer rubrum) lives an average of 130 years but may survive as long as 300 years. The silver maple (A. saccarinum) lives an average of 100 years, sometimes stretching to 125. The sugar maple (A. saccharum) enjoys an exceptionally long lifespan ranging from 300 to 400 years. These deciduous trees are renowned for the shade they produce throughout their life and the brilliant color they display in fall.
In the course of its life, a large sugar maple tree may grow to a height of 100 feet, while smaller species, such as the Japanese maple, may achieve a height of only 8 feet. Most maple trees possess different growth rates with a substantial difference in the time to reach maturity. The sugar maple claims a medium rate of growth of between 13 and 24 inches annually, while the Japanese maple often grows less than 13 inches per year.
The lifespan is affected by the environment. The sugar maple thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 8, while the Japanese maple is hardy only to zones 5 through 8. The lifespan of the Japanese maple is diminished if forced to live in the extreme cold of zone 3 or the high heat and humidity of zone 9.
Pests and Disease
Pests, such as scales, aphids and borers, contribute to lifespan reduction. Diseases like canker, leaf spots, tar spot, anthracnose and leaf scorch inhibit maple trees’ ability to thrive. Maples, such as red and silver, are soft wooded and often suffer damage in wind and ice storms. A tree with thin bark, the maple is easily wounded by mechanical devices, such as lawn mowers and trimmers, making it more susceptible to infestation by insects and disease. (ref 3)