Sugar Maple

Botanical Name: Acer saccharum

Other Common Names:  Sugar Maple, Hard Maple

Brief Description and Notes: Many of our local environmental centers have hosted Sugar Maple festivals to highlight this amazing tree and the delicious sap it produces this time of year. It takes at least 40 years for the Sugar Maple to grow big enough to be tapped; after that point, as long as they are treated well in a healthy environment, they can usually be tapped year after year. Besides producing well-loved sap and syrup, Sugar Maples provide dense shade, beautiful fall color, and benefits for native wildlife. In terms of differentiating from other maples, young trees have smooth gray-brown bark while older trees have more furrows and scaly ridges. The leaves have 5 lobes and a few large teeth on each lobe. 

Where To Look For It: Hardwood and mixed forests that boast beautiful fall colors; fertile and moist soil in sun

Ornamental Value: Fall color, rounded form, long-living tree (best to plant away from road salt and pollution)

Ecological Value & Roles: One of the largest maples with a dense crown; key part of forest canopies; food and shelter for many creatures including deer, moose, squirrels, and a wide range of birds

Edibility and Other Human Use: The sap is often boiled down into maple syrup or even maple candy, but for those seeking naturally filtered water full of minerals and nutrients, you might try drinking some of the sap straight from the tree!

Sources

Missouri Botanical Garden

Bates Canopy: Sugar Maple, by Isobel Curtis

Featured photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT