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Acer saccharum - Marshall.                
                 
Common Name Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple
Family Aceraceae
Synonyms A. saccharinum. (Non L.)
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found in a variety of soil types, doing best in deep rich well-drained soils from sea level to 1600 metres[229]. Rich usually hilly woods[43].
Range Eastern N. America - Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Texas and Minnesota.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       
Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Acer saccharum is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from Oct to December. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

USDA hardiness zone : 5-8


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Acer saccharum Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple


Acer saccharum Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Canopy;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Inner bark;  Leaves;  Sap;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains quite a large proportion of sugar. This can be used as a refreshing drink, or be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water[1, 2, 11, 34, 57]. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The sap can be harvested in late winter or early spring[[142], the flow is best on a warm sunny day after a frost[213]. Trees on southern slopes in sandy soils give the best yields. It is best to make a hole about 7cm deep and about 1.3 metres above the ground[171]. Yields of 40 - 100 litres per tree can be obtained[142]. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. The sap contains 2 - 6% sugar, thus about 32 litres are required to make a litre of maple syrup[229]. Self-sown seedlings, gathered in early spring, are eaten fresh or dried for later use[213]. Seeds - cooked. The wings are removed and the seeds boiled then eaten hot[62, 105, 159, 213]. The seed is about 6mm long and is produced in small clusters[82]. Inner bark - cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[105, 161].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Blood tonic;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Hepatic;  Ophthalmic.

A tea made from the inner bark is a blood tonic, diuretic and expectorant[222]. It has been used in the treatment of coughs, diarrhoea etc[222]. A compound infusion of the bark has been used as drops in treating blindness[257]. The sap has been used for treating sore eyes[257]. The inner bark has been used as an expectorant and cough remedy[257]. Maple syrup is used in cough syrups and is also said to be a liver tonic and kidney cleanser[222].
Other Uses
Fuel;  Potash;  Preservative;  Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them[18, 20]. Wood - close grained, tough, hard, heavy, strong, not very durable, it takes a high polish, remains smooth under abrasion and has a high shock-resistance[46, 61, 82, 171, 227]. It holds nails well, is fair in gluing, dries easily and shrinks moderately[227]. The wood weighs 43lb per cubic foot[235]. Considered by many to be the most valuable hardwood tree in N. America, the sugar maple is used for a wide range of applications including furniture, flooring, turnery, musical instruments and ship building[46, 61, 82, 171, 227]. Accidental forms with the grain curled and contorted, known as curly maple and bird's eye maple, are common and are highly prized in cabinet making[82]. The wood is also a very good fuel, giving off a lot of heat and forming very hot embers[82, 226]. The ashes of the wood are rich in alkali and yield large quantities of potash[82].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Screen, Specimen, Street tree, Woodland garden. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils[11, 98], though it is more likely to become chlorotic as a result of iron deficiency on alkaline soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Trees need full light and a lot of space[98]. This species is one of the most shade tolerant of the N. American maples[226]. It tolerates atmospheric pollution[200] and so is often used as a street tree, though it can suffer from soil compaction and the use of salt on the roads in frosty weather. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.3. Hardy to about -45°c when fully dormant[160]. A fast-growing tree for its first 40 years in the wild[229], this species is not a great success in Britain[1], though it does better than once thought[11]. It grows well in Cornwall[59]. In cultivation it has proved to be slow growing when young[11]. Trees can live for 250 years in the wild[229]. A very ornamental tree[1] but a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants[18, 20]. This species is commercially exploited in America for its sap[1, 11]. Along with its sub-species it is the major source of maple syrup[11]. There are some named varieties[183]. The sap can be tapped within 10 - 15 years from seed but it does not flow so well in areas with mild winters[160]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. A lot of the seed is non-viable, it is best to cut a few open to see if there is an embryo[113]. An average of 95% germination can be achieved from viable seed[98]. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8°c. It can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking two years[125]. The seed can be harvested 'green' (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all[80, 113]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
Marshall.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1143200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[34]Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[59]Thurston. Trees and Shrubs in Cornwall.
Trees and shrubs that succeed in Cornwall based on the authors own observations. Good but rather dated.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[80]McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
[82]Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader.
[98]Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[125]? The Plantsman. Vol. 5. 1983 - 1984.
Excerpts from the periodical giving cultivation details and other notes on some of the useful plants..
[142]Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man.
Readable but not very comprehensive.
[159]McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana.
A nice pocket guide to this region of America.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[161]Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[226]Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada
Very good on identification for non-experts, the book also has a lot of information on plant uses.
[227]Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
[229]Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
[235]Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada
Reprint of a 1913 Flora, but still a very useful book.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.

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