Maple Tree Symbolism and Meanings

 8 min read

After a long journey with all our belongings, my partner and I arrived at our new rural home to find the most beautiful sight in our grandparent’s front yard: a tall sugar maple tree with bright red leaves dancing elegantly in the sunset. Could there be anything more breathtaking than a maple tree in the autumn? If so, it might just overwhelm us.

The Maple tree symbolism has been considered to express love and generosity, as well as protection from negative entities. It is also believed to bring health, healing, financial abundance, and longevity.

In addition, the Maple tree symbolizes the balance between masculine and feminine energies, as well as intuition and creativity.

The scent of the linden flower, which often grows on Maple trees, is said to enhance these qualities even further.

Divine Association:Nanahboozhoo (Salteaux Indian)
Astrological Association:Jupiter
Superstition:It was 400 CE when the Roman grammarian Servius observed that, as Trojans had been defeated by a horse made of maple wood, the tree, therefore, brought bad luck.

About Maple Trees

Maple tree leaves with pointed tips, light to medium green above and paler below.
Maple tree leaves with pointed tips, light to medium green above and paler below.

There are over 100 species in the maple family (Aceraceae) spread across northern temperate areas, especially in eastern Asia. Most of them are deciduous trees or shrubs with opposite leaves that have several lobes each.

The flowers aren’t huge, but they’re often pretty and they open at around the same time as the leaves do. After insects pollinate the flowers, they turn into winged seeds that kids enjoy playing with.

Fun Fact: The maple leaf, recognized for its unique shape, is the Canadian national symbol.

Types of Maple Trees:

  • The field maple (Acer campestre) is a medium-sized tree that grows in Europe and western Asia. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow or red.
  • The Norway maple (A. platanoides) is a handsome, fast-growing tree of great size.
  • The sycamore (A pseudoplatanus), another species of maple, can grow in exposed positions in almost any soil. Rooted originally in European mountain areas, it has been planted and naturalized widely worldwide since then.
  • If you’re lucky enough to see a silver maple (A. saccharum) while in eastern North America, brace yourself for its delightful leaves that billow beautifully in the breeze.
  • You may mistake it for the Norway maple at first glance, but don’t be fooled; the sugar maple (A. saccharum) is one of the most dazzling trees on this continent come autumn when its leaves change colour.

Practical Uses

The resilient and finely textured maple wood is ideal for high-quality carving projects, like musical instruments, or lathe work, such as decorative bowls. For example, in the United Kingdom, Anglo-Saxon era archaeologists have discovered several complete maple harps while excavating a barrow in Taplow village of Berkshire; they were also found at Sutton Hoo – an archaeological site consisting of multiple ship burials -in Suffolk wrapped in a sealskin bag.

The sycamore tree is popular for kitchen tables and furniture because the pale wood has a fine grain that can be cleaned easily. Further west, in southwest England, bakers once used sycamore leaves as bases on which to bake Easter harvest-time buns; their distinctive veins gave a beautiful pattern to the undersides of the buns.

In North America, maple wood has traditionally been used by indigenous tribes for making paddles and oars, as well as in building, basketry and furniture-making.

Native North Americans have been tapping into sugar maples to collect sap for centuries, a practice which is now done on a commercial scale. If the trees are not over-bled, they can be tapped again the following year. It takes an astounding 40 gallons of sap to make only 1 gallon of syrup.

Pure maple syrup contains essential nutrients like sugars, minerals, and vitamins that are beneficial to your health. However, cheaper alternatives might only have a small amount of maple syrup mixed in with other ingredients like corn syrup or artificial additives. To avoid this, be sure to always check the label before purchasing any product.

Natural Healing

The bark of the silver maple is used in herbal medicine by various Native American tribes, including the Tsalagi, Chippewa, Mohegan and Ojibwa. It is believed to be effective in treating sore eyes, gynaecological problems, cramps and coughs.

Folklore, Myth and Symbol of Maple Trees

Maple tree leaves with pointed tips and red color
Maple tree leaves with pointed tips and red color

In Europe, the sycamore tree in the Alps and field maple in lower regions were both traditionally used on farms. For example, people would eat young leaves from these trees as part of a salad or other meal; cattle fodder was also often made from leafy branches.

Furthermore, these trees provided shade and helped to stabilize slopes or damp ground conditions–to such an extent that they were seen as “part of the staff” for many farmers.

Love spoons have been carved from sycamore wood for centuries in Wales, but other than being made into musical instruments, European maples were mostly used on farms.

The Salteaux tribe has a story that relates how the autumn leaves of the sugar maples saved Nanahboozhoo’s grandmother from malevolent spirits. So grateful and taken with the maple’s beauty, Nanahboozhoo decided to live among them. Some tribespeople came and asked him how to collect maple sap without harming the tree more than necessary, to which he showed them how.

Maple trees are often featured in the myths and legends of other Native North American tribes. For example, in a story told by the Chippewa people, there is a hero called Mishosha who turns an evil magician into the most benevolent tree.

The Iroquois legend, “The Hunting of the Great Bear” tells a story of four brothers hunting an enormous bear known as Nyahgwaheh. After a long and difficult chase, they finally succeed in killing him at the top of a mountain. They build a fire, cook the bear meat and feast until they’re full.

Once their hunger is sated, they look around them to see thousands of sparkling lights surrounding them; they realize they are no longer on the mountaintop but high up in the sky!

The bear’s bones came back to life and started running, so the four brothers grabbed their spears and followed him across the sky. They still do today because they form the constellation of the Great Bear.

According to legend, every autumn when they kill him, his blood falls from heaven and colors maple leaves scarlet.

Maple Tree Symbolism and Meanings

Maple trees green and red leaves
Maple trees green and red leaves

Appreciation of Beauty

The ability to find enjoyment and contentment in every moment is often determined by how much beauty we can see around us.

For example, the Japanese go on nature walks specifically to look at the autumn leaves which turn a deep red color.


The Salteaux Indians tell a story of how the grandmother of their creator god was saved by a grove of bright red and orange maple trees. When evil spirits saw her standing in the middle of this field, they thought it was on fire and thus avoided passing through it.

Consequently, she remained unharmed. Appreciating the beauty of a bright red maple during fall can similarly dissolve negativity, banish negative energy attachments, and remind us that life always has beautiful things to offer.


Maple always exudes a sweet spirituality. No matter the season, her graceful otherworldliness gently calms the soul and uplifts the spirits, reminding you of how wonderful life can be and that everything is interconnected.


What do red maple leaves symbolize?

The red maple leaf is a symbol of Canada, as it is featured on the country’s flag. In addition, it also represents the values of endurance and strength. This is because red maples can withstand cold temperatures and are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring.

Native American tribes used to track the seasons based on when the red maple leaves began to turn color in the fall. The resilient nature of the red maple also makes it a symbol of hope and rebirth, as it is one of the first trees to regrow after experiencing damage or destruction.

Overall, the red maple leaf symbolizes resilience, strength, and rebirth.

Does the maple leaf symbolize love?

While there is no universal agreement, many believe that the maple leaf can be a symbol of love. In China, maple leaves are associated with love and marriage. In Japan, the red maple leaf represents passionate love and is a popular design for jewelry and gifts for loved ones.

The maple tree itself is also often associated with loyalty and durability, making it a meaningful symbol of love that stands the test of time.

Though interpretations may vary, it can be said that the maple leaf carries a strong connection to love in many cultures around the world.


The maple tree is a symbol with different meanings like mercy, luck, healing, immorality, and protection. It all depends on the context in which it is used.

The maple tree has been a symbol of Canada for many years and continues to be a popular choice for tattoos and other art forms.

What does the maple tree mean to you?