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Acer saccharum - Marshall.

Common Name Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple
Family Aceraceae
USDA hardiness 5-8
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    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Acer saccharum Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple


USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Acer saccharum Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

 

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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 (UK) 3. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from October to December. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

A. saccharinum. (Non L.)

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

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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].

Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Companion  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]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Fodder: Bank  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Sugar

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. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [1-2].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Sugar  Perennial sugar crops include sugarcane and compare favorably to annuals.

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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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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