Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acer (AY-ser) (Info)
Species: saccharum (SAK-er-um) (Info)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

21 members have or want this plant for trade.

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over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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6 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Mar 6, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The iconic New England tree, with glorious fall color ranging from gold through orange to scarlet. A traditional large shade tree for parks, and an essential forest tree here (Boston Z6a). Not for small spaces, and a difficult tree to garden under.

It is somewhat exacting in its requirements. It hates drought and hot summers, and is sensitive to salt, pollution, and compacted soil. Needs a wide root run.

I recently attended a presentation by a USDA extension professor who projected that, with expected climate change, the sugar maple may be nearly extinct in the wild throughout southern New England by 2050.

Here in eastern Massachusetts, I'd be inclined to plant cultivars recently bred for drought resistance, like 'Legacy'.

Negative DeeMars On Feb 4, 2014, DeeMars from Schenectady, NY wrote:

The Family name for ALL Acers is Aceraceae. Please correct this obvious mistake.

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 24, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I think this is the most beautiful and best of all the world's large maple trees. It grows about 1 to 1.5 ft/yr and lives about 150 to 200 years. In northern Illinois and much of the upper Midwest it is common in certain spots around in the woods. In Michigan it and American Beech are the two climax forest trees, shading the other trees out. It always has good autumn color from yellow to orange to red. In the sandy, acid soils of new England, the color is often red while gold is the norm in the Midwest with richer, silty or clay soils. It is not for tough sites with lots of pollution, salt, limited root space,or heavy clay soil. Dislikes drought. The Black Sugar Maple variety from farther west is more drought tolerant. (I am surprised that botanists have recently thrown the Maple Family into the Soapwort Family). For the sake of genetic diversity, it is best not to just raise a few cultivars of any shade tree. If there is a future problem with global warming in MA or the rest of the US, bring from farther south some more Sugar Maple stock and don't use cultivars.

Positive LJinWBPA On Apr 30, 2012, LJinWBPA from Wilkes-Barre, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

In Northeast PA, Sugar Maples are a part of life. They grow wild, they are planted all over Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, and popular in parks. The fall color is well known, They also provide some spring "foliage" with it's red buds, red blossoms, followed by lime green new leaves. The bad part are those "helicopter" things. Sure they're fun for little kids and chipmonks but they sprout everywhere including cracks in sidewalks. The root systems can also be aggressive and I don't recommend them near concrete or sidewalks. I guess cities love them as they are part of the heritage of the northeast US and they are great in public parks but they do a job on sidewalks. This is a case where even a native plant can get mildly "invasive". I would mostly recommend them for naturalizing and in large yards- away from driveways, concrete and buildings. Another issue is summer thunderstorms. These rarely seem to uproot easily but the twigs and branches of these trees seem to snap easily during summer storms. Where I live is in a valley so we rarely get the high winds or severe weather that people in the midwest get. It's just something to keep in mind when deciding where to place them.

Positive chowgal On Dec 19, 2011, chowgal from Effingham, SC wrote:

i bought a "sugar maple" at my local grocery store sometime in the 90's...i don't see them for sale anymore. they used to be lined up along with fruit trees etc. i have a red maple that drops seeds everywhere and i believe every one of them sprouts.i love my sugar maple ...many birds come and drink the sap...i would love to have another one but i'm not really sure what kind of sugar maple i have...i have read there is a type of sugar maple that grows in the south...maybe that's the one i have...anyway, it never makes has beautiful color in the fall...any ideas on what type of maple i have?chowgal p.s. i live in s.c.

Neutral cloverlymd On Jul 16, 2009, cloverlymd from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

Like all maples this one casts off lots of seedlings. Its strongest point is its phenomenal fall color; I think only the red maple and the callery pear even begin to rival it. Its major drawback, however, is that next to nothing will grow under it. It has extremely dense shade, and very shallow, greedy roots. In my opinion it's a great forest tree but not really that great for one's yard.

Positive raisedbedbob On Jan 30, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have only one. I love it for all the reasons others do as well plus one more: mine drops its leaves all at once making for quick clean-up.

Positive melody On Nov 11, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A large tree with a gray-brown trunk marked with rough vertical grooves, and loose edged plates when old.

One of our most valuable hardwood trees. The sap and the wood are both used commercially. The sap being rendered into Maple Syrup and the wood is used for fine furniture, musical instruments and fine cabinetry.

The beautiful Autumn foliage is admired by gardeners and non-gardeners alike, as it runs the spectrum from pale amber to vibrant red.

Neutral Terry On Nov 18, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

One of my favorite trees for fall color, even here in the mid/upper south. This is one species that points out the need to carefully read nursery tags: Acer saccharinum (Silver Leaf Maple) is NOT in the same league as its cousin, the similar-sounding A. saccharum

Positive DaveH On Nov 12, 2003, DaveH from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

It is important that Sugar Maples develop a strong single trunk. Trim the tree to a single leader when it is about 8 feet high. You'll be glad you did thirty years later. Large trees with double trunks tend to split in storms.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Sugar maple is a deciduous tree that will grow 40-80' tall (sometimes to 100') with a dense, round crown. This tree is one of the trees responsible for providing renowned fall color throughout New England. In the summer, it has medium green leaves that turn yellow-orange in autumn, and a single tree can provide wide variation in color. Fruit is the familiar two-winged samara.

Sugar maples are long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly (somewhat faster in early years.) Native Americans taught the early colonists how to tap these trees to make maple syrup, a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and Canada today; all around, an excellent shade tree for the landscape.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
Mountain View, Arkansas
Forest Falls, California
Groveland-big Oak Flat, California
Keystone Heights, Florida
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Hampton, Illinois
Jacksonville, Illinois
Greenwood, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Acton, Maine
Silver Spring, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Lawrence, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Holt, Michigan
Tecumseh, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Aurora, Missouri
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Ada, Oklahoma
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Irwin, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Clarksville, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Orem, Utah
Plainfield, Vermont
Eglon, West Virginia
Cadott, Wisconsin
De Pere, Wisconsin
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Green Bay, Wisconsin

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