Key identifying features.. 5-lobed leaves
with U-shaped notches.
Common name.. Sugar maple
Scientific name.. Acer saccharum
Mature height.. 75 to 100 feet
Mature spread.. 70 to 80 feet
Form.. Spreading to a broad, rounded
form at maturity. My tree seems to have a natural narrow habit, at least for now. It may be a narrow sugar maple cultivar.
It came with no tags.
Fruit.. Two winged horseshoe shaped samaras
take flight in fall, especially in the hands of an 8-year-old fascinated with "helicopter seeds" and causing "seed storms."
Flowers.. Pale, yellow-green, small flowers
appear in clusters before the leaves emerge. Not showy. My tree produced flowers for the first time in 2006, seven years after
planting here. I thought they were beautiful!
|Sugar maple flowers
Foliage.. Deciduous; dark green in summer,
paler green on bottom; turns orange, red or yellow (sometimes all three, plus green) in fall. Leaves are opposite, simple,
palmate with five lobes and u-shaped notches.
Growth rate.. Textbooks list this tree
with a "slow" growth rate, meaning less than 1 foot a year, but mine has grown upwards of 2 feet a year. See the growth chart for pictures.
Culture.. Grows fastest in full sun,
but tolerates partial shade. Prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Does not tolerate salt and isn't crazy about pollution
Best time to prune.. Late summer through
late fall, when the sap isn't rising, otherwise you may get sap falling on things below from the pruning site, and ants crawling
on the tree hunting that sap on warmer winter and spring days.
Of special note.. Sugar maple sap rises
sometime from January to April, and may be gathered in buckets for making maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of maple sugar
sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
Julie's Comments.. This
tree puts on a breathtaking display in fall, starting out vibrant orange, then transforming to clear yellow in late November.
Some days, I simply want to put on a jacket, make a bowl of popcorn and park myself underneath her canopy and watch her all
day -- she is so gorgeous. I planted her too close to the house, though, in a desperate attempt to get some shade in my (then)
completely open back yard. In this tree's first year in my yard, she barely had any leaves, many of the branches appeared
to be damaged or diseased and there was a fungus growing on the trunk. I begged the nursery owner to come to my property not
once, but twice, in the hope that he would replace the sick tree with a healthy one. He said over and over that there was
nothing wrong. In the end, he was right and the tree just needed time to get used to her new home, because she is absolutely
beautiful now and I did nothing but give her plenty of slow soakings with the garden hose and admittedly, a hug and a prayer
now and then.
|June 1999: The garden hose is pointing to the sugar maple.
Planting date.. March
1999. Burlap ball. 2-inch diameter trunk. Height: 14 feet. When I initially planted the tree, I didn't plant it deep enough.
So I went back out a few days later, dug a deeper hole right next to the root ball and eased tree into the deeper one. The
second hole was probably TOO deep, but as of yet, I've not noticed any problems related to it being planted too deep. It's
amazing any of my trees survive.
DO OVER?.. Yes.