SOUTHERN SUGAR MAPLE (Acer saccharum var. floridanum)
Acer saccharum Marsh. (sugar maple or rock maple) is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of northeastern Canada, from Nova Scotia west through Quebec and southern Ontario to southeastern Manitoba around Lake of the Woods. In the United States, the species is common from Minnesota, to the New England states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and down to the Eastern seaboard states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. They are also found as far south as Georgia and Texas. Sugar maple is best known for its bright fall foliage and for being the primary source of maple syrup.
Acer saccharum is a deciduous tree normally reaching heights of 25–35 m (82–115 ft) tall, and exceptionally up to 45 m (148 ft). A 10-year-old tree is typically about 5 m (16 ft) tall. When healthy, the Sugar Maple can live for over 400 years.
The leaves are deciduous, up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long and equally wide, with five palmate lobes. The basal lobes are relatively small, while the upper lobes are larger and deeply notched. In contrast with the angular notching of the silver maple, however, the notches tend to be rounded at their interior. The fall color is often spectacular, ranging from bright yellow through orange to fluorescent red-orange, although they look best in the northern part of its range. Sugar maples also have a tendency to color unevenly in fall. In some trees, all colors above can be seen at the same time. They also share a tendency with red maples for certain parts of a mature tree to change color weeks ahead of or behind the remainder of the tree. The leaf buds are pointy and brown-colored. The recent year’s growth twigs are green, and turn dark brown.
The flowers are in panicles of five to 10 together, yellow-green and without petals; flowering occurs in early spring after 30–55 growing degree days. The sugar maple will generally begin flowering when it is between 10 to 15 years old. The fruit is a double samara with two winged seeds, the seeds are globose, 7–10 mm (0.28–0.39 in) in diameter, the wing 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long. The seeds fall from the tree in autumn, where they must be exposed to 90 days of temperatures below -18 °C to break their coating down. Germination of A. saccharum is slow, not taking place until the following spring when the soil has warmed and all frost danger is past.[need quotation to verify]
It is closely related to the black maple, which is sometimes included in this species, but sometimes separated as Acer nigrum. The western American bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) is also treated as a variety or subspecies of sugar maple by some botanists.
The sugar maple is also often confused with the Norway maple, though they are not closely related within the genus. The sugar maple is most easily identified by clear sap in the leaf petiole (the Norway maple has white sap), brown, sharp-tipped buds (the Norway maple has blunt, green or reddish-purple buds), and shaggy bark on older trees (the Norway maple bark has small grooves). Also, the leaf lobes of the sugar maple have a more triangular shape, in contrast to the squarish lobes of the Norway maple.
Although many people think a red sugar maple leaf is featured on the flag of Canada, the official maple leaf does not belong to any particular maple species; although it perhaps most closely resembles a sugar maple leaf of all the maple species in Canada, the leaf on the flag was specially designed to be as identifiable as possible on a flag waving in the wind without regard to whether it resembled a particular species’ foliage.
(Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)