Even though sugar maples don’t grow across all of Canada, their sweet nature has bolstered them onto the Canadian flag to represent an entire nation. That’s pretty special! Looking at the flag, you’ll notice that the maple leaf has 5 lobes that end in pointed tips. Don’t be fooled by the leaf on the new plastic dollar bills – that’s not a sugar maple leaf but an artistic rendition of several maple species thrown together. And unlike the red leaf on the flag, real sugar maple leaves turn a brilliant yellowy-red colour in the fall.
Similar to ash trees, sugar maple trees also have an opposite leaf and branching arrangement. The seeds are packaged in winged keys; the seeds are very round and chubby, and the wings point down instead of spreading horizontally as in the non-native Norway maples. Norway maples also have 7 pointy leaf lobes and they get the quarter-sized black spots in the fall.
Sugar maples often grow in pure stands. They are tolerant of heavy shade when young and like deep moist soils, but don’t like it too wet. They will also tolerate some lime content so if you have limestone under your soils they should be OK. And of course sugar maples are living fountains of maple syrup – a true Canadian invention.
If you want to plant your very own sugar maples, seedlings are available through our Tree Seedling Program. We typically start to take orders late October/early November for delivery the next spring. If you would like to be added to the Tree Seedling Program notification list, sign up for our Mainstream E-Bulletin.