Sugar Maple Trees

Acer saccharum Sugar Maple

  • Zones:  3-8
  • Sun to Part Shade, very shade tolerant
  • Height:  60-75’ or more, some reaching 150’
  • Spread:  35-50’
  • Shape:  Upright oval when young, more rounded crown as it matures
  • Growth Rate:  Moderate, up to 1 foot per year in ideal conditions.
  • Soil Preference:  Prefers well drained loam, sandy loam or silt, does not do well in dry shallow soil.  However, in the northern Great Lakes areas grows well in a wide variety of soils including clay.  Generally prefers an average pH, but will do well in strongly acid.
  • Moisture:  Average moisture requirements, does not tolerate drought well unless it has generous amount of space for the roots to spread wide and deep.
  • Foliage:  Dense foliage and branching, with medium to dark green leaves.  Fall color is yellow, orange, and/or red.
  • Blooms:  If present, insignificant small yellow flowers before the leaves in early spring.
  • Fruit: If present, seeds (called samara) are double in a horse shoe shape, winged and fall in late autumn.




The Sugar Maple is native to the Northeast and North to Mid-central United States, but grows well in most states except Florida, south Texas and the California coast.  Depending on conditions, will often reach about 55-65’ at 50 years old, the growth slows after 50 years.  Sugar Maple is often confused with the Norway Maple.  The Sugar Maple has brown sharp tipped buds, the Norway Maple has blunt green or red-purple buds.  A ten year old tree will generally be about 15’ tall, but in ideal conditions they can grow much more quickly.  Allow plenty of room to spread its’ roots.  The wood grows very strong and will stand up to strong winds and ice.  Sugar Maple is an excellent dense shade tree, but will limit ability to grow grass.  Drought will result in leave scorch, so regular watering in dry periods is necessary.  Fall coloring can be very uneven, with several different colors displaying at once, sometimes various parts of the foliage turning color at much different times.  Sugar Maple is not very tolerant of acid, pollution and salt.  The overuse of street salt has led to a decline in the use of Sugar Maple as a boulevard tree.  Sugar Maple is not as tolerant of urban conditions including compacted soil, heat, drought and road salt as the Norway Maple.   Sugar Maple develops well branched, symmetrical crowns, and requires little or no pruning.


Acer saccharum ‘Legacy’

  • Zones:  4-8
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Height:  50-75’, up to 100’
  • Spread:  30-35’
  • Shape:  Oval to rounded
  • Growth rate:  Fast
  • Soil preference:  Prefers moist well drained, sand to clay-loam.
  • Moisture:  Moderate to dry.  Tolerates heat and drought.
  • Foliage:  Dark green waxy leaves that hold on late, even into winter.  Fall color begins late, turning orange-red in the north, more yellow in warm regions.
  • Blooms:  Green flower clusters in spring
  • Fruit: 

One of the best drought resistant cultivars, making it a hardy tree in the warmer southern regions.  Vigorous spreading habit and heavily branched, dense crown.  ‘Legacy’ does not tolerate pollution or salt, but will tolerate abuse from deer and rabbits. Excellent shade or lawn tree.


Acer saccharum ‘Sweet Shadow’

  • Zones:  4-8
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Height:  30-50’ or more
  • Spread:  35-45
  • Shape:  Vase shaped, upright habit
  • Growth rate:  Medium
  • Soil preference:  Best in fertile, slightly acidic soil.  Will do well in average well drained soil, but does poorly in compacted soil 
  • Moisture:  Medium, does not tolerate drought.
  • Foliage:  Dark green leaves are deeply cut, giving the tree a fine textured appearance.  Fall color is orange.
  • Blooms:  Insignificant green yellow blooms in early spring.
  • Fruit:  Samaras in wide pairs mature in late summer.

‘Sweet Shadow’ maple is an excellent shade tree with beautiful fall color.  The lacy look of the foliage makes this a beautiful specimen.  Will not perform well as a street tree in the north, as it does not tolerate road salt well.

TreesSharon Dwyer