The field maple is a small, deciduous tree, growing to a height of between 10 and 15 metres, with very round crown and dense branches. The bark is very light grey, smooth with irregular fissures when young and cracked when older. It is easily distinguishable from other maples due to its small, five-lobed, rounded leaves. They are dull green above and paler underneath. The winged fruits are about 2.5 centimetres long and are distinguishable from those of other maples by the fact that the wings are horizontal rather than curved.
In the wild, the field maple is often a component of mixed forests. It also does very well on light sandy-loamy soils on a limestone substrate. The natural area of distribution includes Europe and Asia Minor.