Sugar Maple and kin

Discussion in 'Maples' started by angilbas, Oct 30, 2004.

  1. angilbas

    angilbas Active Member

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    Sidney, BC
    The Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) heads a group of "hard maple" species, all of which are native to North America (with one species, A. skutchii, extending to Central America). In Canada, Sugar Maple is native from Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé Peninsula and Lac St-Jean west in a continuous block to the southern end of Pukaskwa National Park. It is on Michipicoten Island and there also are isolated populations near Thunder Bay. Until recently it was not considered hardy in the Prairie Provinces, although Winnipeg and Edmonton had the odd long-term success story. The cultivars 'Northern Select' and 'Unity' proved Prairie-Province-hardy to Zone 3 and resistant to frost cracking (which has been a big problem for an otherwise-healthy specimen at the Calgary Zoo), and 'Inferno' may be the hardiest of all, possibly good in Zone 2 if a Saskatoon planting is representative.

    In British Columbia, a specimen at the CNR Gardens (since razed) in Blue River survived -42C in December 1978. In southwestern BC, it has become more readily available at garden centers in recent years. Of its many cultivars, the one most likely to be found is 'Legacy,' with leathery leaves and vigorous growth.

    Sugar Maple is often confused with Norway Maple. They can be told apart by their buds ... greenish and turban-shaped in the Norway, brown and pointed in the Sugar. Norway's petioles hold a milky juice; the Sugar's is clear. The Norway's seed wings are much more divergent than the Sugar's. The Sugar does not tolerate root pruning as well as the Norway, so when the two are side-by-side at a garden center, the Norway is likely to look more vigorous.

    The Black Maple (A. nigrum) is so closely related to the Sugar that some consider it merely a variety. It is recognized by droopy 3-lobed leaves (firmer and usually 5-lobed in the Sugar) which rarely color scarlet in fall as Sugar often does. Also, its twigs are less shiny than the Sugar's. It grows in southern Ontario and southwesternmost Quebec.

    Relatives of the Sugar Maple not native to Canada are the Bigtooth (A. grandidentatum, of the interior western USA and parts of Mexico), Chalk (A. leucoderme, smallest of the hard maples, found in the southeastern USA), Florida (A. floridanum, another southeastern USA native with southernmost populations near Orlando and Tampa) and Guatemala (A. skutchii, also found in Mexico). All are classified as varieties of A. saccharum in some books.

    Relevant URLs include:

    JEFFRIES NURSERIES - NORTHERN SUGAR MAPLE -- information about the 'Unity' Maple.

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2022
    Soumil Yarlagadda likes this.

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