Sugar Maple

Image of Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of northeastern Canada, from Nova Scotia west through Quebec and southern Ontario to southeastern Manitoba around Lake of the Woods. In the United States, the species is commonly from Minnesota, to the New England states of Main, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and down the Eastern seaboard state of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. They are found as far south as Georgia and Texas. Sugar maple is best known for its bright foliage and for being the primary source for maple syrup production.

Sugar maple is a deciduous tree normally reaching heights of 25-35 m and exceptionally up to 45 m. A 10 year old tree is typically about 5 m in height.

The leaves are deciduous (meaning they drop in the fall of the year), up to 20 cm long and equally wide, with five palmate lobes.

The flowers are in corymbs of five to ten together, yellow-green and without petals; flowering occurs in early spring after 30-55 growing degree days. The sugar maple will generally begin flowering when it is between 10 to 15 years of age.

The fall colour is often spectacular, ranging from bright yellow through orange to fluorescent red-orange, although they look best in the northern part of the range. Sugar maples also have a tendency to colour unevenly in fall. In some trees, all colours above can be seen at the same time.

The sugar maple is an extremely important species to the ecology of many forests in Canada and the United States. Pure stands are common, and it is a major component of the northern and central hardwood forests.

Sugar maple is one of the most important Canadian trees, being the major source of sap for making maple syrup. As spring arrives and the daytime temperatures increase, sap begins to rise in the tree. In maple syrup production the sap is extracted from the trees using a tap placed into a hole drilled through the phloem (sap carrying layer of the tree) just inside the bark. The collected sap is the boiled. As the sap boils, the water is evaporated off and the syrup is left behind. 40 litres of maple sap are required to be boiled to produce only 1 litre of pure syrup. This is the reason for the high cost of pure maple syrup.

The wood of the sugar maple is one of the hardest and densest of maples and is prized for furniture and flooring and a multitude of other tools and sports equipment.