Sugar Maples are located throughout the east coast, Midwest, and northern Canada. They are native to the hardwood forests living alongside yellow birches, beeches, American basswood, white ash, ironwood, and red oak. Sugar maples are extremely shade tolerant and are able to persist and grow hardily in the shade of taller plants. Sugar maples often leech moisture and nutrients from the soil through a network of fibrous surface roots, but their ability to engage in hydraulic lift provides water to the upper, drier soil layers benefitting the wildlife around the tree.
Image credit: Elbert L. Little, Jr., USGS - USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center: Digital Representations of Tree Species Range Maps from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications)
Origin, history, and uses:
Traditionally the Mohegans used the inner bark of sugar maples as a cough remedy and sweetening agent. Sugar maples are historic to Canada and Vermont because of their sweet sap used to make maple syrup. Sap is extracted by hammering a tap into the trunk, then subsequently collecting, boiling, and refining the sap. The wood itself is hard and dense and used in baketball courts, baseball bats, archery equipment, and musical instruments. Sugar maples are responsible for the richness of fall foliage in many North American landscapes.
Buds bloom in late May or early April. They produce male and female flowers which are pollinated and subsequently produce mature seeds which drop to the ground as double samaras. They change color in late September or early October blending red, orange, and yellow hues.