How do you tell the difference between oak and maple trees?

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Are you looking for the perfect tree to plant in your backyard? Or are you just doing some research on trees that are present in your location? There are so many variants of trees out there at the present that will totally fit the theme of your lawn, its size, and other requirements that are necessary for keeping your tree healthy.

Two of the most popular trees are Oak and Maple. Both of these trees are hardwood, which means that their wood comes from the angiosperm group. Hardwood trees produce flowers and are usually denser as they grow older. Though oak and maple are both angiosperms, they have their share of differences which can help people distinguish between the two of them. These trees are different in several factors such as some parts of their appearance, their fruit, the season which they grow best, the time when they are best pruned, and many more.

To know more about oak and maple, the best way is to list down not only how they are the same but also how different they are from each other.

The main similarities and/or differences between oak and maple trees

Even though both trees are hardwood, they are different in some ways from each other.

Oak vs Maple in terms of classification

Oak trees belong to the genus Quercus group, which means that they are trees that are usually evergreen. There are over 400 species of trees and shrubs that are classified to be included in the genus Quercus.

Meanwhile, Maple trees belong to the genus Acer group, which also includes over 100 species of trees and shrubs in its classification.




Oak vs Maple in terms of appearance

The easiest way to tell the difference between an oak and maple tree is by appearance.


The bark of a white oak tree is usually in a greyish-brown shade and rougher and is gnarled when compared to maple – which means that it has a distorted look and pattern. On the other hand, a maple tree’s bark is in between the shades of brown and darker red, and its texture is significantly smoother.

Leaves and Branches

When it comes to its foliage, an oak tree’s leaf is commonly dark green and has a thick stem. The leaves are strong and appear long and have a leather-like feel. Meanwhile, a maple tree’s leaf can be flimsy and easy to tear, and appears to be broader and flatter in shape. Depending on the variety of the tree and the current season, its leaves may be in a shade of red, orange, or pale green.

The most common variant of oak is the white oak tree, and its leaves are usually lobed, while the most common variant which is the red maple tree’s leaves usually have serrated edges.

The branches of an oak tree can be somewhat wild and appear unorganized, while a maple tree’s branch looks neat and consistent.


White oak trees are slow growers. When it is around 11 years of age, they usually stand up to 10 to 15 feet tall. On its maturity, they can sometimes reach a height between 50 to 100 feet. On the other hand, a red maple tree can reach a height between 40 to 60 feet upon reaching maturity.


Compared to maple trees, oak trees have acorns, which contain one or two seeds of the oak tree inside its hard, brown shell. To store its seeds, maple trees on the other hand have “helicopters.”

Oak vs Maple in terms of the blooming season

A tree’s blooming season can be affected by the specific variant of the tree. Some classifications may bloom early while some may occur in the later period of the year.

Oak trees usually bloom during the month of April, while maple trees often make their flowers bloom anytime from March to May.

Both trees are recommended to be pruned when they are still young to maximize their growth. For oak trees, arborists suggest owners do the maintenance when it’s winter as to lessen the risk of infection. For maple trees, professionals suggest you to trim them during late summer.






Oak vs Maple in terms of diseases

When you are in the process of deciding which is the best tree to plant in your backyard, knowing what diseases are common in a particular tree is an important factor you need to take into account before making your decision.

In terms of diseases, maple trees are highly susceptible to fungal infections. Some of the diseases that are common to maple are Verticillium Wilt or the wilting of the tree’s vascular system, Tar Spot, and Root Rot.

On the other hand, oak trees are not as susceptible to fungal inspections, but this does not mean that they will not be affected by other causes of disease. The most common reason why an oak tree will get sick (or die) is due to pests or insects that find their way to the oak’s leaves and limbs.

Oak vs Maple in terms of use

In terms of what the particular tree will be used for, both oak and maple trees are very usable and are in high demand at the market.

Maple trees are often used for their inner bark, sap, seeds, and leaves and are usually mixed with food or medicine. The most popular product made from the tree is maple syrup which is made from boiling the tree’s sap.

Meanwhile, oak trees are known for their attractive appearance and their sturdy wood used for constructing various products such as floor tiles, fences, and furniture such as cabinets, desks, and bed frames. Some variants of oak also have barks that are very effectively used for medicinal purposes and can treat ailments such as asthma and diarrhea.

Aside from the benefits oak trees offer to people, these trees are also very useful for animals and wildlife. They serve as a sanctuary to many types of birds and some animals like to store accord to feed on them during the colder months.

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