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Acer barbatum

Common Name(s):
Florida maple, Southern sugar maple
Native Plants, Trees

Acer saccharum commonly known as sugar maple is a deciduous tree which will typically grow 40' to 80' tall (sometimes to 100') with a dense, rounded crown. This tree is a main component of 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. 

Sugar maples are long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly (somewhat faster in the first 35 years). Native Americans taught the early colonists how to tap these trees to make maple syrup which has now become a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and Canada. It is an excellent shade tree. The sugar maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada. It is more heat tolerant than the sugar maple. The bark of young trees is smooth, pale gray and shaggy in older trees.

Regions:  Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaves:    Fall              Blooms:   Early spring, spring             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Wildlife Value:  The Southern sugar maple flowers are visited by pollinators and seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.  White-tailed deer browse the twigs and leaves but is moderately resistant to damage.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: This tree is susceptible to verticillium wilt, anthracnose, cankers, leaf spot and tar spot. Also susceptible to aphids, borers and scale. Leaf scorch may be a problem in drought conditions. It has been frequently used as a street tree, but is generally intolerant of road salt, soil compaction and pollution.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.


40-50 ft.
The fruit of the Southern sugar maple is the familiar two-winged samara.
The Southern sugar maple is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It does best in fertile, slightly acidic, moist soils in full sun. It grows poorly in compacted, poorly drained soils. It is intolerant of road salt and also generally intolerant of urban pollution.
Sun, Part shade, shade
20-25 ft.
Growth Rate:
Moderate to rapid
The Southern sugar maples medium green leaves (3-6" wide with 3-5 lobes) turn yellow-orange in autumn, sometimes with considerable color variations.
heat tolerant, tree, deciduous, fall color, street tree, birds, nectar, wildlife, shade tree, food, maple, bark, fire, low flammability

NCCES plant id: 1870

Acer barbatum Leaves
Stephen Seiberling, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Acer barbatum Buds
Bruce Kirchoff, CC BY - 2.0
Acer barbatum Buds
Bruce Kirchoff, CC BY - 2.0
Acer barbatum Nodes
Bruce Kirchoff, CC BY - 2.0
Acer barbatum Form
David J. Stang, CC-BY-SA-3.0