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Sugar MapleAcer saccharum

  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
  • Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum

The sugar maple is one of America’s best-loved trees. In fact, more states have claimed it as their state tree than any other single species—those states being New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Vermont.

While commercially planted for its delicious syrup and value as lumber, this tree makes a great addition to any yard or park. And one of its most prominent features is amazing fall color. As the seasons change, the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, burnt orange and red.


Hardiness Zones

The sugar maple can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–8. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The sugar maple grows to a height of 60–75' and a spread of 40–50' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow to Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12" to 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The sugar maple grows in deep, well-drained, acidic to slightly alkaline soil. It prefers moist soil conditions but has moderate drought tolerance.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Puts on a show in the fall, with leaves turning yellow, burnt orange and red.
  • Develops a dense crown, offering great shade.
  • Features 3–5" medium to dark green leaves with 5 (rarely 3) distinct lobes that are slightly coarsely toothed.
  • Produces small, greenish-yellow glowers in groups that curve downward on long, delicate stems, blooming in April and May.
  • Yields pairs of winged seed about 1–1½" long that mature in September or October. Seeds are produced annually, with particularly heavy crops every 2–5 years.
  • Grows in a round or oval shape.
  • Should not be planted in confined spaces or areas where salt is a problem.

Wildlife Value

Sugar maples are commonly browsed by white-tailed deer, moose and snowshoe hare. Squirrels feed on the seeds, buds, twigs and leaves.

History/Lore

In 1663, chemist Robert Boyle informed the Europeans about the tree in the new world that produced a sweet substance. John Smith was among the first settlers who remarked about the Native Americans’ sugar processing and the fact that they used the product for barter. They also used the inner bark to make a tea to treat coughs and diarrhea.

Other historic uses included making soap from its ashes, using the bark as a dye, drinking the sap as a spring tonic and taking the syrup for liver and kidney problems.

During the 2001 baseball season, Barry Bonds switched from the traditional ash wood baseball bat to one made of maple and hit 73 home runs—a new record!