The Large-leafed maple is, at least in this neck of the woods, easily the largest of the deciduous trees that grow wild. Although poplars and others may be taller, no other broad-leafed tree in the northwest can match this maple for pure grandeur. When you have a forty-year-old maple in your garden, it may very well BE your garden!
The glory of the maple is not in its flowers, although the grape-like blossom clusters can easily be 12 inches long. Nor is it in the seeds that develop, the little natural "helicopters," which are themselves very interesting (their study led to the eventual development of manmade airborne objects!). That subject is a fascinating history in itself.
The true beauty of the maple lies in two other areas of its existence. On a small scale (taking "small" with a grain of salt!), the leaves are a work of art. The geometry and symmetry of the maple leaf is well-known, and it has become an important symbol--especially for Canadians!
When you combine this "quality" of beauty with the "quantity" of the large-leafed maple's size, the result is very impressive. Some of the leaves on our "tamest" maple (a baby, only about 18 years old), grow up to nearly two feet across. A group of these leaves makes an incredible centerpiece for the table, especially in October and early November when the fall colors have arrived.
I think the greatest beauty of the maple is simply in beholding the tree as a whole! The sight of those graceful branches loaded with five-pointed banners of green cools me so on a hot summer day. And that expanse of green does actually cool the air, as gallons and gallons of water evaporate from the leaves in the sunshine. (Which we do occasionally experience here!)
This maple has a graceful shape and a dignified stance. This is no 90 pound weakling, nor is it a bully; it is a tall, well-rounded and friendly occupant of our neighborhood, thoughtfully shading us in the summer, then dropping those leaves in the winter so we can benefit from every little bit of sunshine that deigns to visit during those cloudy months.