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Acer saccharum Marshall

Acer saccharum Marsh.

Sugar maple

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilySapindaceaeSoapberry family
GenusAcerMaples
SpeciessaccharumContaining sugar

About plant names...

Sugar maples are famous for their clear-running sap, tapped each year in the New England area to produce maple syrup. Real maple syrup, not the fake stuff made with corn syrup that is sold in most grocery stores. There is no comparison! They also produce a light-colored, fine-grained durable wood that is prized for furniture. And they are amazingly beautiful in the fall.

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

Plants: Trees are deciduous, reaching 80-115' (24-35 m) in height, rarely up to 150' (45 m).

Leaves: Leaves are palmate, up to 8" (20 cm) in size. Sugar maples are similar to Norway maples, but the leaves have more teeth. Sap from the base of a leaf stem is clear, vs. milky in Norway maples. Silver maples (with the similar-sounding name Acer saccharinum) have much more deeply lobed leaves (both species are found in about the same range). Black maples have leaves with 3 lobes and softer curves. Florida maples have leaves with velvety undersides and more rounded leaf tips, while sugar maples are not hairy. Florida maples are also found predominantly in Ala­bama, Mississippi, and Georgia (and some parts of Florida and nearby states), while sugar maples occur throughout much of the eastern United States.

Flowers: Flowers are in panicles of five to ten, yellow-green, and lacking petals. Trees don’t start producing flowers until they are at least ten years old.

Fruits: The seedpods of Norway maples are almost com­pletely opposite each other, while they typically form an angle of about 120° in sugar maples. The “wings” of the seeds, called samaras, are ¾-1" (2-3 cm) long, with seeds that are ¼-⅜" (7-10 mm) around.

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

Sugar maples, like this one in southern Maine, are among the most colorful of trees in the fall.

Edibility: The sugary sap is boiled down to make maple syrup, a delicacy. Other portions of this tree are not edible.

Online References:

Acer saccharum on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Acer saccharum at the University of Florida Environmental Horticulture site

Acer saccharum at the Ohio State University PLANTFacts database

Acer saccharum at the USDA Forest Service's Silvics of North America site

Acer saccharum at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Acer saccharum at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Acer saccharum on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Acer saccharum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Acer saccharum on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

8/7/2017 · Groton Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4 × 4" (10 × 10 cm)

Acer saccharum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 27 Sep 2020.

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Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

8/14/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

9/7/2020 · Calderwood Trails, Freeport, ME
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

9/7/2020 · Calderwood Trails, Freeport, ME
≈ 4 × 7" (11 × 16 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

11/15/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

9/7/2020 · Maquoit Bay Conservation Area, Brunswick, ME
≈ 10 × 7" (24 × 16 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

8/7/2017 · Groton Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 4" (12 × 11 cm)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

8/14/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Range:

About this map...