Sugar Maple


Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Description:

Perhaps our most beautiful native tree, it reaches a height of 80 ft. (25 m) and can be 3 ft. (1 m) or more in diameter. Sugar maples usually grow tall and straight in the forest, while when grown in the open they are shorter and more heavily branched. The leaf is the emblem on the Canadian flag, sharp-pointed with rounded notches. Buds are opposite, reddish-brown and sharp. Sugar maples produce a brilliant array of red, scarlet, orange and bright yellow fall colours.

 

Growing Conditions:

Best growth is made in rich, well-drained soil and with light shading. It grows mainly in mixed stands with American beech, yellow birch, eastern white pine, red spruce and eastern hemlock and is a key component of our climax Acadian forest.

Propagation:

Seed should be collected from the tree if possible, or from the ground if the tree cannot be climbed. Seed production is unpredictable there is little available some years. Consider collecting extra during a heavy seed year and storing the seeds in a dry place for future planting. The winged parts of the samara should be dry before picking and some should have already started to fall from the tree. In each paired samara, only one seed is viable. Germination can be poor, so plant more than you think you might need. Plant individual samaras 1 in. (2.5 cm) apart, in rows 6 in. (15 cm) apart, at a depth of 1/4 in. (6 mm). Mulch the area over the winter removing most of this in the late spring. Provide seedlings with light shade during the growing season. After planting out, check seedlings regularly and prune when necessary to maintain a strong central leader.

Wildlife Uses:

Seeds of the sugar maple are eaten by grosbeaks and other species of birds. The trees are also extremely important as nesting sites for a wide variety of birds and mammals, and the young plants are often browsed by snowshoe hare.

Areas of Usage:

Sugar maple is one of our best woods for furniture and instrument making, being the source of bird’s eye and flamed maple. It is used for veneer, plywood and vehicle stock. Maple syrup and sugar are made from the sap. In forest plantings, it works well in thinnings and even in gaps in old field White Spruce. It is valuable as a landscape specimen throughout the year, especially for its fall colours.

Additional Information:

Sugar Maple is also commonly known as Hard Maple, Rock Maple, Black Maple, or Curly Maple. Sugar Maple is found throughout PEI in the hardwood areas. It is a tall tree averaging 70 to 80 feet in height and a diameter of up to 2 feet. The trunk is usually straight in the forest, short and branched in the open. The compact and regular crown is composed of slender, mostly acsending branches. It requires a moist, rich, well-drained soil for its best development. It occurs in pure stands also in mixtures of red spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, beech, yellow birch, oak and red maple. It is one of our most conspicuous hardwoods in autumn, the leaves turning brilliant shades of deep red, scarlet, golden orange and bright yellow. The wood is one of the most valuable hardwoods in Canada. It is used for furniture, veneer, plywood, and vehicle stock. Maple syrup and maple sugar is made from it’s sap.

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