Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Spring
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Wet, Moist, Medium
Color: Red, Yellow
Fragrance: No
Height: 40 to 80 feet
Spacing: 30 feet

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is a deciduous tree which will typically grow 40 to 80 feet tall with a dense, rounded crown. Medium green leaves 3-6 inches wide with 3-5 lobes turn yellow-orange in autumn, sometimes with considerable color variations. Fruit is the familiar two-winged samara. Sugar maples are long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly. Trunk bark is gray to gray-brown and it is covered with relatively flat irregular plates. These plates have a rough texture. Branch bark is gray and more smooth, while twigs are brown and glabrous with scattered white lenticels (air pores). Non-woody young shoots are light green and glabrous.

The flowers bloom during mid- to late spring as the leaves emerge (which are yellowish green at this time of year). Cross-pollination occurs by the wind during a 1-2 week period. Fertile female flowers are replaced by paired samaras that become mature during the fall. The paired samaras form a 60º to 90º angle with each other. Individual samaras are about 1 inch long, consisting of a single-seeded head with a membranous wing; they are distributed by the wind. The woody root system consists of much-branched lateral roots that are relatively shallow. During the autumn, the deciduous leaves assume brilliant shades of yellow, orange, or red.

Habitats include rich mesic woodlands, sandy woodlands, wooded bluffs and hills, north-facing wooded slopes, wooded areas in protected coves and river valleys, lower slopes or bottoms of rocky ravines and canyons, and edges of limestone glades. Sugar Maple is often cultivated as a landscape tree in parks and yards. This tree is often the dominant canopy tree in mesic woodlands, or it can be codominant with American Beech or American Basswood. As a result of the suppression of wildfires and higher amounts of rainfall during the past several decades, it has displaced oaks, hickories, and other native trees in many woodlands around the state.

While honeybees and other bees sometimes collect pollen from the male flowers of Sugar Maple, cross-pollination is not achieved because they fail to visit the female flowers, which offer neither nectar nor pollen as a floral reward.

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in fertile, slightly acidic, moist soils in full sun. Grows poorly in compacted, poorly drained soils. Susceptible to aphids, borers and scale. Leaf scorch may be a problem in drought conditions.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Native Americans taught the early colonists how to tap these trees to make maple syrup..
  Excellent shade tree. }Intolerant of road salt.
  Generally intolerant of urban pollution.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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