How to differentiate between sycamore, mountain and field maple (with pictures of the leaves)

Using pictures and memory aids, this guide teaches you how to quickly distinguish Field maple, Mountain maple, and Sycamore maple based on their leaves.

from Martin Gebhardt | Plants / fungi | reading time 0 Min
Updated on 08 June 2023 16.554 views 100% found this guide helpful
How to differentiate between sycamore, mountain and field maple (with pictures of the leaves)

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • The three types of maple trees are the Norway maple, the sugar maple, and the red maple.
  • The Norway maple has few strong points and round notches between the points.
  • The sugar maple has many small points that look like a mountain range and no round notches.
  • The red maple has rounded points and no round notches between the points.
  • Practice distinguishing between the types of maple trees to make it easier to recognize them in the future.
  • Play with children to teach them how to distinguish between the types of maple trees.

When I was in my third module of my wilderness education training this fall, I approached the deciduous trees.

And as I learned about the different types of trees, I wondered how I could differentiate between the sycamore, mountain, and field maple in the future.

In this article, I want to show you my method and memory aids so that you can accurately determine which maple tree you are holding the leaf of in the future.

How do I recognize the Sycamore maple?

As the name suggests, the leaf of the sycamore maple has few strong tips.

There are round notches between the tips.

My memory aid: The sycamore maple has few highly pronounced pointed ends.

The sycamore maple
The sycamore maple

How do I recognize the Mountain maple?

On the leaf of the mountain maple, you also see tips, but there are many more than on the sycamore maple.

The tips look like mountains when you look at them up close.

And what's also noticeable is that there are no round notches between the tips.

My memory aid: The mountain maple has many small tips that form a mountain range in close-ups.

The mountain maple
The mountain maple

How do I recognize the Field maple?

The field maple is easy to differentiate from the sycamore and mountain maple because its tips are strongly rounded.

There are also no round notches visible between the rounded tips.

My memory aid: The field maple has rounded corners and the border looks like a field path.

The field maple
The field maple

It's really not difficult to tell the three types of maple trees apart, is it?

At first, I only knew one type of maple tree, but now I can tell from a distance which type it is.

Sporadically, I turn it into a game and ask my children to identify the type of maple tree. After playing a few times, they catch on quickly.

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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