Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum
Sugar maple is the state tree of Vermont, New York, West Virginia
& Wisconsin. It is probably the species most people think
of when someone speaks of "maples"
and it is
also the tree most commonly "tapped" to produce the
sweet maple sap, which is boiled to make maple syrup and sugar.
Sugar maple lumber is often used in furniture, kitchen cabinets
and flooring because of its durability, fine grain pattern and
white color. Sugar maples produce some of the most brilliant
fall foliage in the Northeast and North Central states, turning
many shades of yellow, orange and red during late September
· USDA Plant Guide for Sugar Maple: PDF File
Species Description: Silvics of North American Hardwoods
Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheet for Sugar Maple
University of Connecticut Plant Database
Sugar maple has a dense, spreading crown, and can reach heights
of over 100 feet. The bark of younger trees is light gray
in color, becoming gray-brown, rough and deeply furrowed with
Leaves are deciduous, 2 to 5 inches long and about as wide,
with 5 blunt to sharply pointed lobes and coarsely toothed
leaf margins. They are dark green and smooth on the upper
surface; the lower surface being lighter in color with tiny
hairs often being found in the junction of the veins.
Flowers are small, greenish-yellow in color, and found in
drooping clusters. Each cluster contains 8 to 14 flowers.
Flowering occurs in early spring.
Fruits are winged samaras, which grow in a pair and are about
an inch long and ripen 12 to 16 weeks after flowering.
Sugar maple is commonly found in hardwood forests of the eastern
US and Canada. It grows from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
westward to Ontario and Manitoba, North and South Dakota.
On the western edge of its range it is found as far south
as eastern Kansas and Oklahoma, and as far south as Georgia
in the east. (Insert range map).
Sugar maple commonly grows in rich, mesic sites, but also
occurs in drier upland forests. In predominantly hardwood
forests, it is commonly found in association with American
beech, American basswood, northern red or white oak, birch,
and yellow poplar. In mixed hard and softwood stands it can
be found with pines, spruce and fir and eastern hemlock.
Sugar maple is highly prized as a source of sap for the production
of maple syrup and candy, as well as for its hard, fine grained,
and light colored lumber.
The wood is used for everything from wood-strip baskets to
parts of helicopter rotors. It is commonly used for furniture,
cabinets, paneling, hardwood flooring and veneer.
Sugar maple continues to be widely planted as an ornamental,
and many cultivars have been selected for shape, size, and
fall color. It can be sensitive to site conditions in the
urban environment, and planting sites should be chosen with
USDA, NRCS. 2001. Plant Guide; Sugar Maple. National
Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.