Sugar Maple

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Acer saccharum, the Sugar Maple tree is native to the hardwood forests of Eastern Canada and the Northern United States, best known for being the primary source of maple syrup and for its brightly colored fall foliage. Sugar Maples are deciduous tress which normally reach heights of 25-35 m and can even grow up to 45 m. They have deciduous palmate leaves whose color changes year round between green, yellow, orange, red, brown, and colors in between. Their fruit are pairs of samaras, which are colloquially known as "twirly birds" because as they fall from the tree, the twirl around until they reach the ground. Fun Fact: One of the students whose tree this is used to have a sugar maple in her front yard as she is from Wisconsin. The sugar maple is actually the state tree of Wisconsin (in addition to New York, Vermont, and West Virginia).
Reagan Blohowiak and Sabrina Garcia
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
4.29 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.19 m

The bark of a sugar maple is light gray. It becomes rough and deeply furrowed with age, forming irregular ridges and scales. The bark image from April 4th 2022 aligns with our understanding of the bark of a sugar maple. The bark appears light gray. However, there is green algal like blooms on the surface of the bark. There are no noticeable changes in bark over the various seasons.
Twigs & branches
The branches of the sugar maple are thin and light gray. Unfortunately, at this time during the year there was no foliage visible. The twigs of the sugar maple are extremely thin and fragile. A slight grasp between your hands could break the twigs right off.
Sugar maple leaves are deciduous and palmate and measure up to 20 cm long and wide. The fall color ranges from bright yellow on some trees to orange and red-orange on others. They may also color unevenly in the fall. In other seasons, the leaves are green or absent (winter).
Reproductive Structures
Seed germination requires extremely low temperatures (lightly above freezing) and no other known three species has his property. In fact, germination of sugar maple seeds in temperatures above 50 °F (10 °C) is rare to nonexistent. The winter buds can be visualized in the image above taken on April 18, 2022. These buds will eventually turn into a mature structure as the season progresses. The sugar maple produces small greenish-yellow flowers in groups that curve downward on long delicate stems that bloom in April and May. The flowers produce winged seeds that mature in September or October. Upon inspection on April 18, 2022, the greenish-yellow flowers had not yet bloomed. However, their immature structure can be easily visualized above in the image of the winter bud on April 18, 2022.
The sugar maple fruit is a pair of samaras or winged seeds. In autumn, the seeds fall from the tree, where they must be exposed to 45 days of temperatures below 4 °C (39 °F) to break down their coating; however, germination doesn't happen until the following spring when the soil has warmed and frost no longer occurs. Note: In our survey time, we were unfortunately unable to observe the fruit of this tree because it only exists between September and October.
Natural range of distribution: 
Sugar maple can tolerate virtually any soil type (besides pure sand) but doesn't tolerate xeric or swampy conditions. Sugar maple is also among the most shade tolerant of the large deciduous trees, meaning it can germinate and persist under a closed canopy and when introduced to light formed by a gap in the canopy, displays rapid growth.
Origin, history, and uses: 

Origin: Sugar Maple is native to areas with cooler climates as it requires a hard freeze each winter for proper dormancy, meaning it is common in many forests in the northern United States and Canada (north of the 42nd parallel in USDA growing zones 3-5). Climate change has led to the decline of sugar maples, pushing the suitable habitat range even farther north, where temperatures remain cooler.

History: The Mohegan tribe used the inner bark of the Sugar Maple tree as a cough remedy and the sap as a sweetening agent and to make maple syrup.

Uses:The most obvious use for the sugar maple is as a source of sap for making maple syrup. In sugar maples, the sap is harvested by playing a tap into a hole drilled through the phloem. The collected sap is boiled and the remaining substance (once the water evaporates) is the syrup. Sugar maple can also be used for timber. Interestingly, maple is the wood used for basketball courts and is a popular wood for use in baseball bats and for certain instruments. Additionally, the Sugar Maple is a favorite street and park tree as it is easy to propagate and transplant, is fairly fast-growing, and has a beautiful fall color.


Godman, Richard M.; Yawney, Harry W.; Tubbs, Carl H. (1990). “Acer saccharum”. In Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H. (eds.). HardwoodsSilvics of North AmericaWashington, D.C.United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Vol. 2 – via Southern Research Station.

Lafleur, Benoit; Paré, David; Munson, Alison D.; Bergeron, Yves (2010). “Response of northeastern North American forests to climate change: Will soil conditions constrain tree species migration?”. Environmental Reviews18: 279–289. doi:10.1139/a10-013.

Heilingmann, Randall B. “Hobby Maple Syrup Production (F-36-02)”. Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 17 September 2002.

Other information of interest: 

Images of a sugar maple from every season are presented here. This allows for a better understanding of how a sugar maple’s appearance changes over time. 

Media and Arts