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Growing the Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum

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Overview of the Sugar Maple:

Many people tap sap from the sugar maple because of its high sugar content, which means you do not need as much to create maple syrup. This will also add beautiful fall colors to your garden.

Latin Name:

This Sapindaceae (soapberry) family member has the Latin name of Acer saccharum.

Common Names:

Though this is usually called by the name sugar maple, you may also see hard maple or rock maple.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

For best results, this tree should be planted in USDA Zones 3-8. It is native to eastern North America.

Size & Shape of the Sugar Maple:

This species will grow to be 50-80' tall and 30-60' wide, forming into a rounded shape.

Exposure:

Plant this in a location that receives full sun to full shade.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit of the Sugar Maple:

The leaves are usually 3-6" long with three to five lobes and will turn shades of orange, yellow or red in autumn.

The green flowers appear in spring. This species can be either monoecious or dioecious.

The fruits form in winged pairs called samaras. Once they mature they will be papery and brown.

Design Tips For the Sugar Maple:

If you live in an area where salt is used to deice roads, do not use this as a street tree as this species does not tolerate salinity well. It also can struggle if there is a lot of pollution in the area or if placed in areas like planter strips where the roots are not able to spread.

Make sure you keep this adequately watered as it does not do well in drought. Create a watering system in your yard to make it easier.

Growing Tips For the Sugar Maple:

Do not tap the tree for sap once the buds appear. Learn more about making your own maple syrup. You can expect an average of 10 gallons per tap, and a tree can have up to three taps depending on the trunk diameter. It usually takes up to 50 gallons of sugar maple sap (depending on sugar content) to make one gallon of syrup. Whew!

Maintenance/Pruning:

Only prune if necessary at the end of summer or in fall to avoid problems with bleeding sap.

Pests & Diseases of the Sugar Maple:

Possible diseases include:

  • Butt rot (Ustulina vulgaris)
  • Eutypella canker(Eutypella parasitica)
  • Heart rots (Inonotus glomeratus and Hydnum septentrionale)
  • Nectria canker (Nectria galligena)
  • Root rot (Armillaria mellea)
  • Sapstreak (Ceratocystis coerulenscens)
  • Verticillium wilt, (Verticillium albo-atrum)

There should not be too many pest problems besides the possibility of bud damage. Some potential pests include:

  • Aphids like the woolly alder aphid (Prociphilus tesselatus)
  • Bruce span-worm (Operophtera bruceata)
  • Bud miners (Obrussa ochrefasciella and Proteoteras moffatiana)
  • Deer
  • Forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria)
  • Gloomy scale (Melanaspis tenebricosa)
  • Green-striped mapleworm (Anisota rubicunda)
  • Leaf rollers
  • Maple leaf-cutter (Paraclemensia acerifoliella)
  • Maple phenacoccus (Phenacoccus acericola)
  • Maple trumpet skeletonizer (Epinotia aceriella)
  • Sapsuckers
  • Spring cankerworm (Paleacrita vernata)
  • Squirrels

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