Prized for its beautiful fall colors, hardiness, and usefulness, the Sugar Maple is popularly cultivated as an ornamental and shade tree, best known for its lively foliage and for serving as the nation’s principal provider of maple syrup. Caring for a Sugar Maple is a hassle-free and straightforward process, especially if you’ve planted it in a well-drained, clean-air location. Though their form may vary, most such trees have a broad, rounded structure that gives them a sense of majesty and emphasizes their sumptuous, sun-shielding canopy of leaves.
A native of North America’s hardwood forests throughout Canada and the northeastern United States, the Sugar Maple is widespread in rich moist woodlands and uplands, and is tolerant to a variety of soils and conditions. It is not as receptive to excessive heat, air pollution, salt, or compact loam. This tree has a 3-8 hardiness zone rating and favors medium, well-drained soils with full sun to partial shade. It is said that more states (we’re looking at you New York, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin!) have claimed the Sugar Maple as their state tree than any other single species. In the wild—particularly in many northern forests—this species reigns as a dominant or co-dominant deciduous tree.
The Sugar Maple belongs to the Sapindaceae family and is scientifically classified as Acer Saccharum (not to be confused with its cousin Acer Saccharinum, the Silver Maple). Growing 40-80 ft. tall with a rounded crown and an impressive spread of 30-60 ft., the Sugar Maple can survive for over 400 years given optimal conditions. Its lush green foliage is enriched with golden-green April flowers, these leaves darkening gradually and unevenly to autumnal shades of luminous yellow, bronze, and red. And, most characteristically of all, beneath its layer of grayish-brown bark resides the Sugar Maple’s treasure trove of precious sap. 40 liters of maple sap are needed to produce, when boiled, a single liter of pure syrup. In optimum circumstances, as many as 10-30 gallons of sap can be extracted (per tap) from a mature specimen within a season.
Chances are, if you live in the United States, you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Sugar Maple jazzing up the sides of many a national highway or town boulevard. You’ve also probably had a taste of the delectable syrup yielded from this tree. You’ve likely tread on the satiny surface of the Sugar Maple’s timber, too, which is always in great demand for flooring, furniture, veneer, interior finish, rollers, bowling alleys, basketball courts, musical instruments, and even as fuel wood.
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
This Tree's Zone: 3 to 8
Your Growing Zone:
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
|Size||40 to 80 feet|
|Spread||30 to 60 feet|