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Sugar Maple Acer saccharum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser sa-KAR-um
Description

Northern Sugar Maple is a deciduous tree that may grow 40 to 120 feet tall. The leaves are opposite with 3-5 palmate lobes and smooth margins. The bark of young trees is smooth becoming heavily scaled with age. Greenish-yellow flowers on long stalks mature in spring. During fall, brown, winged samaras mature.

Sugar maple is a fast-growing shade tree with striking fall color in the Sapindaceae family.  It is a popular tree in the Eastern U.S. hardwood forest and is one of the trees which is most responsible for giving New England its reputation for spectacular fall color.  It is a vigorous feeder and is very easy to grow.  Medium to large deciduous tree 50-100'. This tree tolerates heavy shade and can be planted in a lawn.  It is used as a tree where compaction and pollution are not a problem.  Because of its slow growth rate, it makes strong wood that is resistant to storm damage.

Family name Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves: Fall      Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems.  Aphids, borers, and scale may be present.  Verticillium wilt, anthracnose, cankers, leaf spot, and tar spot can affect unhealthy trees.  Leaf scorch may occur in drought conditions.  It can have brittle wood. Roots can crack sidewalks and clog drains and septic systems. Is frequently used as a street tree, but does not tolerate soil compaction, pollution, or road salts well.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Opposite, palmately lobed leaves
  • Margin wavy
  • Lobes 5, entire, pentagon outline
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#fall color#large shade tree#birds#shade tree#songbirds#heavy shade#orange leaves#wildlife plant#native tree#yellow leaves#shelter#fall interest#windbreak#playground#lawn tree#small mammals#storm damage#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#buffer#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#screening#pollinator plant#edible tree#fantz#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#fall color#large shade tree#birds#shade tree#songbirds#heavy shade#orange leaves#wildlife plant#native tree#yellow leaves#shelter#fall interest#windbreak#playground#lawn tree#small mammals#storm damage#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#buffer#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#screening#pollinator plant#edible tree#fantz#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    saccharum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    These trees can be tapped to make maple syrup.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    Eastern North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.  The large diameter tree often contains hollows used by wildlife.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Pieces Used in Games
    Screening
    Shade
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Nesting
    Wind Break
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Storm damage. Fire. White-tailed deer browse twigs and leaves but this tree is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 120 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Description:
    Schizocarp with two samaras, large, wings nearly parallel.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Insignificant blooms in April
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are opposite, palmately compound, entire, wavy, 5-lobed, acuminate at vein apices, green concolorous, and glabrate below to few hairs in vein axils. Lateral lobes project further from midrib than basal lobes; thus, a leaf outline is a pentagon. The leaves are a good yellow-orange fall color and light/dark green for some of the year.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Patchy
    Bark Description:
    Bark can have furrows where ontop the bark is dark brown and then below is lighter (nearly a reddish-brown to light brown). Bark color may be light brown, dark brown, or brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Scaly
    Stem Bud Scales:
    Enclosed in more than 2 scales
    Stem Description:
    Stems are slender. Stems and buds can be green, brown to reddish-brown. Buds are 1/4"-1/2", cone-shaped, acute, and have 4-8 pairs of lateral scales.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Fire