Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum
Aceraceae (maples)

A medium to large tree with a large, round crown.

Leaves opposite, simple, 3–6 inches long, triangular overall, sometimes wider than long, usually 5-lobed but sometimes 3-lobed; lobes mostly entire or irregularly toothed, the tips pointed, sinuses U-shaped, upper surface dark green, lower surface paler and whitish, smooth except for tufts of hairs at the vein axils.

Bark smooth and gray on young trees, later darker with grooves and irregular scaly plates.

Twigs slender, shiny, smooth, green at first, reddish-brown later; pores conspicuous, pale; bud tips sharp-pointed.

Flowers April–May, with male and female flowers commonly on the same tree (sometimes on separate trees), borne on long, hairy, drooping stalks, appearing as the leaves are expanding.

Fruit matures August–October, reddish-brown, samaras (winged fruits) in pairs, each wing ¾–1½ inches long.

Height: to 100 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in moist to dry upland forests, margins of glades, ledges and bases of bluffs, and stream banks. Sugar maple is highly shade tolerant and attains its greatest size and density in the Mississippi and Missouri river hills where the soils are deep and less prone to fires. As a popular ornamental, it is regularly used for landscaping.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Human connections: 
Native Americans had many medicinal uses for a tea made from the inner bark. Sugar maple is a main source for maple sugar and syrup. The wood is made into furniture, interior finishing and much more. It is a popular ornamental tree, especially for its colorful yellow, orange and red fall foliage.
Ecosystem connections: 
Seeds are eaten by songbirds, squirrels and small rodents. Deer feed on young twigs, buds and leaves.
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