Sugar Maple Trees: Plant a Landscape Standout


With a lovely form and beautiful bark, sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum) are perfect for using in your home landscaping. The long-lived sugar maple hardwood, found throughout the eastern states, provides cool shade in spring and summer.

When planting make sure you have the space required to accommodate their large mature size of 80 feet or more with a spread of up to 60′. Sugar maples tolerate shade, but growth is fastest in full sun. These trees will not tolerate “wet feet” or drought conditions. It is best to plant sugar maples in well-drained, moderately moist and fertile soil.

The deciduous leaves of sugar maple are usually five-lobed, medium to dark green on the top and are generally smooth on both sides. Leaves typically measure from three to five inches long. The sugar maple leaves are well known as the emblem of Canada. The wind and insect pollinated flowers of sugar maples are pale yellow-green with five tiny petals. They appear in clusters before the leaves emerge in April or May.

In the Northeast and North Central states, sugar maples fall foliage colors range from yellow to burnt orange or red and provide a colorful magnificent display that can last until mid-October. Considered a slow grower, sugar maple trees average about one foot of height growth annually for the first thirty to forty years. The trees have a dense, upright oval crown with a spread that reaches at least as wide as the tree stands tall.

Check Out: Pruning and Cutting Guide

Known as the source of “maple syrup,” the sap of these trees are collected in the spring and used to produce maple syrup and sugar. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make just 1 gallon of syrup. The valuable wood is used for everything from flooring and cabinets to furniture. The wood color ranges from creamy to reddish. Sugar maples also provide an important food source for deer, squirrels, and many species of birds that feed on the trees bark, twigs and fruit.

Sugar maples encounter leaf scorch during excessive drought, various diseases, and physical injury, which can all cause the decline of sugar maple trees. But for the most part sugar maples are relatively free from diseases.

The sugar maple trees can be purchased from local nurseries, gardening centers and other plant dealers and distributors. There are over 200 different species of maple trees, best known for their helicopter seeds that fall to the ground spinning like the blades of a helicopter, and the syrup that is made from its sap. The sugar maple is the state tree of Vermont, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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