Maple firewood is one of the most common species of wood used for burning because it burns well and is abundant in many places. There are several species of maple that are used for firewood. They include Red Maple, Sugar or Hard Maple, Black Maple, Norway Maple and Silver Maple.
All maples are deciduous and share some identification features such as opposite branching, samaras and an upright oval form. Here is a lowdown on the differences between the different maple firewood species:
- Sugar Maple aka Hard Maple
Sugar Maple is the best of all maples for firewood. It has the typical maple leaf that most people think of, the same one that is on the Canadian flag. The buds on Sugar maple are brownish-gray and pointed. Black Maple is essentially the same tree as Sugar Maple, it differs only because it usually doesn't grow in the same range.
- Red Maple
This maple features smaller leaves with lobes much more shallow than that of the other maples. It's bark is smooth and light colored when young but turns dark scaly brown when older. The best way to distinguish a red maple from a sugar maple in the winter is the presence of round red buds.
- Silver Maple
Silver Maple is a very fast growing tree with deeply lobed leaves. They almost resemble fingers they are so deeply lobed. The Bark is silvery-gray colored and has vertical strips.
- Norway Maple
Norway Maple is an invasive tree in North America that resembles Sugar Maple in its leaves. However, its bark is more furrowed and looks more similar to ash than the other species of maples. Another good way to distinguish a Norway from a Sugar is to rip a leaf off a stem. It will have milky sap oozing from the petiole, whereas a Sugar Maple will have clear sap.
Whew, that's a lot of information to process. Here are some pictures that may help you with the ID of maple firewood.
Processing Ease and Heating Value
Sugar Maple and Black Maple are both excellent firewood species. Their heating value is very high although they are difficult to split. Even though it does take some effort to split them, they are well worth the effort.
Red Maple and Norway Maple are both average species. They have average heating values and are fair for ease of splitting.
Silver Maple, because it is such a fast growing tree does not have a very good heating value. It is the worst of all the maples mentioned above, but it does split a little easier than the others.
Sugar and Black Maple are both top-notch firewood species. I highly recommend using them. They both have above average heating values and are not a nightmare to split.
Red and Norway Maple are both worthy of being used a firewood, but they don't heat as well as the above mentioned species. I would recommend using them, as they tend to be abundant in many areas in North America.
Silver Maple is a tree that I only recommend using if you happen to get it for free. Ideally you would mix it in with other superior species.
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