Acer saccharum Marsh.

sugar maple

New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

Where native and non-native distributions co-occur in a county, only the native distribution is shown.

North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Sugar maple is an emblematic and common tree of the New England landscape, widely planted along roadsides and sugar bushes in order to harvest its maple syrup. Trees planted by colonial settlers survive to this day, often with large, gnarly trunks and deeply fissured bark. The silhouette of the sugar maple leaf is the centerpiece of the Canadian flag. The golden-brown wood has an attractive and easy-to-work grain, sometimes enhanced by a fungus that gives it a wavy, almost iridescent texture called "bird's-eye." Maple syrup yields over $100 million and 4000 seasonal jobs in Vermont alone each year, but the industry may decline as spring climates change and sugar maples become less common at southern New England latitudes.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), forests, talus and rocky slopes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Growth form
the plant is a tree
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
Up to 150 mm
Leaf blade width
80–200 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Bark texture
the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • gray
  • red
Bud scale number
there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Bundle scar number
    3
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Leaf scar arrangement
    there are two leaf scars per node on the stem or twig
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
    Winter bud scales
    the winter bud is perulate (partially or completely covered with one or more scales)
    Winter bud shape
    • the winter buds are lanceoloid (lance-shaped, widest below the middle and tapering to the ends)
    • the winter buds are ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Winter bud stalks
    the winter buds have no stalks
  • Flowers
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    NA
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescences grow on the twigs
    Inflorescence type
    • the inflorescence is a corymb (with long lower branches and shorter upper branches, giving it a more or less flat-topped look)
    • the inflorescence is an umbel (with an axis so short it appears the flowers all originate from the same point)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    Petal appearance
    NA
    Petal fusion
    NA
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Sepal tip glands
    there are no glands at the tips of the sepal lobes
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen number
    • 10
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    • the fruit is a schizocarp (when dry it splits into sections, each holding one or more seeds)
    • the fruit is an achene (dry, usually 1-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit has one or more wings on it
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a tree
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    • the underside of the leaf has hairs on it
    • the underside of the leaf has no hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf blade base shape
    The base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, with rounded lobes)
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    there is a noticeable powdery or waxy bloom on the underside of the leaf
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    the leaves have teeth only at the tips of the lobes
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    • NA
    • the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 150 mm
    Leaf blade scales
    there are no scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    • the leaf blade is triangular, with the stalk or attachment point on one of the sides
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is coriaceous (has a firm, leathery texture)
    • the leaf blade is membranaceous (thin, flexible, almost translucent)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the main veins of the leaf blade are palmate (radiate out from the base, like a hand)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has three or more main veins running from the base (or near the base) towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    80–200 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the plant is broad-leaved (with broadly flattened leaf blades)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf midrib glands
    the midrib of the leaf blade lacks glands on the upper surface
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk shape
    the leaf stalk is not flattened
    Leaf teeth
    the leaf blade margin is serrate (with forward-pointing teeth) or dentate (with outward-pointing teeth)
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant, or they fall off as the leaf expands
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • river or stream floodplains
    • talus or rocky slopes
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor, or it has an unpleasant or repellant odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Lenticels on twigs
    there are clearly lenticels on the twigs
    Pith shape
    the outline of the pith in a twig is roughly round
    Pith type
    the pith inside the twig is solid, completely filled with spongy tissue
    Short shoots
    there are no peg- or knob-like shoots present
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hairs
    the twigs have few or no hairs on them
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig scales
    there are no scales on the twig surface
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • gray
    • red
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Occurs most often in non-wetlands, but rarely in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU-)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. saccharum

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Acer platanoides:
broken leaf stalks yielding milky sap, flowers without petals, and fruit wings diverging at an angle of 60-120 degrees (vs. A. saccharum, with broken leaf stalks yielding watery sap, flowers with yellow petals, and fruit wings diverging at an angle of 170-180 degrees).

Synonyms

  • Acer nigrum var. glaucum (F. Schmidt) Fosberg
  • Acer nigrum var. saccharophorum (K. Koch) Clausen
  • Acer saccharum var. glaucum (F. Schmidt) Sarg.
  • Saccharodendron saccharum (Marsh.) Moldenke

Family

Sapindaceae

Genus

Acer

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Acer saccharum Marsh. var. saccharum.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

11.  Acer saccharum Marsh. var. saccharum N

sugar maple. Acer nigrum Michx. f. var. glaucum (F. Schmidt) Fosberg; A. nigrum Michx. f. var. saccharophorum (K. Koch) Clausen; A. saccharum Marsh. var. glaucum (F. Schmidt) Sarg.; Saccharodendron saccharum (Marsh.) Moldenke • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Mesic forests, including uplands, rocky slopes, and high-terrace floodplains.