Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple. Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae. There are approximately 128 species, most of which are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Most maples are trees growing to 10–45 m (33–148 ft) height.
A maple leaf is on the coat of arms of Canada, and is on the Canadian flag. The maple is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries including Canada. Maple leaves are traditionally an important part of Canadian Forces military regalia, for example the military rank insignia for generals use maple leaf symbols.
Maples are important as source of syrup and wood. Dried wood is often used for the smoking of food. Charcoal from maples is an integral part of the Lincoln County Process used to make Tennessee Whiskey.They are also cultivated as ornamental plants and have benefits for tourism and agriculture.
Some of the larger maple species have valuable timber, particularly Sugar maple in North America, and Sycamore maple in Europe. Sugar maple wood — often known as "hard maple" — is the wood of choice for bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, pool cue shafts, and butcher's blocks. Maple wood is also used for the manufacture of wooden baseball bats, though less often than ash or hickory due to the tendency of maple bats to shatter when broken.
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