Acer saccharum

Botanical Name : Acer saccharum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. saccharum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

*Acer barbatum auct. non Michx.
*Acer barbatum f. commune Ashe
*Acer floridanum (Chapm.) Pax
*Acer hispidum Schwer.
*Acer leucoderme Small
*Acer nigrum F. Michx.
*Acer nigrum var. glaucum

Common Names: Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple

Habitat : Acer saccharum is native to the hardwood forests of eastern Canada, from Nova Scotia west through Quebec and southern Ontario to southeastern Manitoba around Lake of the Woods, and the northern parts of the Central and eastern United States, from Minnesota eastward to the highlands of the eastern states. It is found in a variety of soil types, doing best in deep rich well-drained soils from sea level to 1600 metres. Rich usually hilly woods.

Acer saccharum is a deciduous tree normally reaching heights of 25–35 m (80–115 ft) tall, and exceptionally up to 45 m (148 ft). A 10-year-old tree is typically about 5 m (16 ft) tall. When healthy, the sugar maple can live for over 400 years.

The leaves are deciduous, up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long and equally wide, with five palmate lobes. The basal lobes are relatively small, while the upper lobes are larger and deeply notched. In contrast with the angular notching of the silver maple, however, the notches tend to be rounded at their interior. The fall color is often spectacular, ranging from bright yellow through orange to fluorescent red-orange, although they look best in the northern part of its range. Sugar maples also have a tendency to color unevenly in fall. In some trees, all colors above can be seen at the same time. They also share a tendency with red maples for certain parts of a mature tree to change color weeks ahead of or behind the remainder of the tree. The leaf buds are pointy and brown-colored. The recent year’s growth twigs are green, and turn dark brown.

The flowers are in panicles of five to 10 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 and 15 years old. The fruit is a pair of samaras (winged seeds). The seeds are globose, 7–10 mm (9?32–13?32 in) in diameter, the wing 2–3 cm (3?4–1 1?4 in) long. The seeds fall from the tree in autumn, where they must be exposed to 90 days of temperatures below ?18 °C (0 °F) to break their coating down. Germination of A. saccharum is slow, not taking place until the following spring when the soil has warmed and all frost danger is past.

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.

The sugar maple is also often confused with the Norway maple, though they are not closely related within the genus. The sugar maple is most easily identified by clear sap in the leaf petiole (the Norway maple has white sap), brown, sharp-tipped buds (the Norway maple has blunt, green or reddish-purple buds), and shaggy bark on older trees (the Norway maple bark has small grooves). Also, the leaf lobes of the sugar maple have a more triangular shape, in contrast to the squarish lobes of the Norway maple.

Although many people think a red sugar maple leaf is featured on the flag of Canada, the official maple leaf does not belong to any particular maple species; although it perhaps most closely resembles a sugar maple leaf of all the maple species in Canada, the leaf on the flag was specially designed to be as identifiable as possible on a flag waving in the wind without regard to whether it resembled a particular species’ foliage.

The sugar maple is the state tree of the US states of New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Screen, Specimen, Street tree, Woodland garden. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils, though it is more likely to become chlorotic as a result of iron deficiency on alkaline soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Trees need full light and a lot of space. This species is one of the most shade tolerant of the N. American maples. It tolerates atmospheric pollution and so is often used as a street tree, though it can suffer from soil compaction and the use of salt on the roads in frosty weather. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.3. Hardy to about -45°c when fully dormant. A fast-growing tree for its first 40 years in the wild, this species is not a great success in Britain, though it does better than once thought. It grows well in Cornwall. In cultivation it has proved to be slow growing when young. Trees can live for 250 years in the wild. A very ornamental tree but a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. This species is commercially exploited in America for its sap. Along with its sub-species it is the major source of maple syrup. There are some named varieties. The sap can be tapped within 10 – 15 years from seed but it does not flow so well in areas with mild winters. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. A lot of the seed is non-viable, it is best to cut a few open to see if there is an embryo. An average of 95% germination can be achieved from viable seed. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking two years. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Leaves; Sap; Seed.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains quite a large proportion of sugar. This can be used as a refreshing drink, or be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The sap can be harvested in late winter or early spring[, the flow is best on a warm sunny day after a frost. Trees on southern slopes in sandy soils give the best yields. It is best to make a hole about 7cm deep and about 1.3 metres above the ground. Yields of 40 – 100 litres per tree can be obtained. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. The sap contains 2 – 6% sugar, thus about 32 litres are required to make a litre of maple syrup. Self-sown seedlings, gathered in early spring, are eaten fresh or dried for later use. Seeds – cooked. The wings are removed and the seeds boiled then eaten hot. The seed is about 6mm long and is produced in small clusters. Inner bark – cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread.
Medicinal Uses:
A tea made from the inner bark is a blood tonic, diuretic and expectorant. It has been used in the treatment of coughs, diarrhoea etc. A compound infusion of the bark has been used as drops in treating blindness. The sap has been used for treating sore eyes. The inner bark has been used as an expectorant and cough remedy. Maple syrup is used in cough syrups and is also said to be a liver tonic and kidney cleanser. The Mohegan use the inner bark as a cough remedy, and the sap as a sweetening agent and to make maple syrup.

Other Uses:
Fuel; Potash; Preservative; Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. Wood – close grained, tough, hard, heavy, strong, not very durable, it takes a high polish, remains smooth under abrasion and has a high shock-resistance. It holds nails well, is fair in gluing, dries easily and shrinks moderately. The wood weighs 43lb per cubic foot. Considered by many to be the most valuable hardwood tree in N. America, the sugar maple is used for a wide range of applications including furniture, flooring, turnery, musical instruments and ship building. Accidental forms with the grain curled and contorted, known as curly maple and bird’s eye maple, are common and are highly prized in cabinet making. The wood is also a very good fuel, giving off a lot of heat and forming very hot embers. The ashes of the wood are rich in alkali and yield large quantities of potash

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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