Forest 16 - Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum

Leaves of the Sugar maple. Photo not from Arboretum Sugar-Maple-Trees Photo courtesy of bissellmaplefarm

Other common names

Hard maple, Rock maple

Origin of the species name

Acer is from Latin and means sharp and refers to the tips of the leaves; saccharum is from Latin for sugar and is the genus name for sugarcane.



Date planted

July 2009


Sugar maples can live for up to 500 years.

ACER SACCHARUM Young tree in Forest 16

General description

This is a medium to large deciduous tree with a dense elliptical crown. The bark of young trees is smooth, but is later broken into plates. The well known maple leaves are 8–15 cm long and equally wide with five palmate lobes. The autumn colour ranges from bright yellow through orange to fluorescent red-orange. The fruit are winged nuts typical on maples. Height 30m Spread 15m.

Natural distribution and habitat  

The species is native to north-eastern North America extending from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario in Canada and south to Georgia in the eastern USA. It grows best in rich moist soils in uplands and valleys and sometimes occurs in pure stands.

Conservation status

While it is not a threatened species, human activities have contributed to the decline of the sugar maple in many regions. It has often been replaced by more opportunistic species in areas where forests are used for timber. The sugar maple also exhibits a greater susceptibility to serious pollution than other species of maple.


The sugar maple is one of the most important Canadian trees, being the major source of sap for making maple syrup. It is also one of the most valuable hardwood trees in North America being used for a wide range of applications including furniture, flooring and ship building. It is widely used for musical instruments such as violins and guitars. A red sugar maple leaf is featured on the flag of Canada. Maple leaves are prominent on the Arms of Canada.

Planting pattern

Planted in long rows. It grows on both sides of Forest Drive.

Further reading

Palmer, C (2008) Trees and Forests of North America. Abrams.