Sugar Maple- Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
The sugar maple may not be a fruit tree, but it certainly produces a sweet harvest! Besides syrup production, these gorgeous trees are also beloved for their timber and ornamental qualities.
This large, slow-growing hardwood is native to the eastern regions of North America, where it is a familiar sight and part of the national landscape. Its potential planting range is quite extensive, however; it can grow all across the country, and as far north as zone 3. In fact, it will thrive most in cooler climates, where it will reach its maximum height. The sugar maple can reach heights of up to 35 metres, and easily achieve diameters over 1m at maturity. It features dense canopies that can spread up to 24 metres. Its average lifespan exceeds 200 years, with some specimens reaching 300 or even 400 years (the oldest known sugar maple in Ontario is over 380 years old!)
Sugar maples are quite adaptable to different soils, but they will do best in moist but well-drained soils that contain some lime. One important consideration when planning for a plantation is that these trees are quite susceptible to salt and should not be planted in close proximity to roads or urban areas. On the other hand, they are one of the most shade-tolerant of the North American hardwoods, and can survive for long periods below the canopy of forests while waiting their turn for release.
Sugar maples are of course best known for their role in the production of maple syrup. Their sap has twice the sugar content of other maple species. Nonetheless, it still takes 40 litres of sap to give about 1 litre of syrup! Note, however, that the tree must reach a diameter of at least 12 inches before considering tapping it for syrup.
Sugar maples are also a popular ornamental tree thanks to both the dense and elegant canopies that also make them one of the better shade trees, and their spectacular autumn foliage ranging from brilliant orange to bright red, and yellow in the southern parts of their range. Their wood is the best of all maple wood and is highly prized for its strength and shock resistance as well as the beauty of its grain. It is commonly used for making furniture, flooring, veneer, and all sorts of personal and novelty items as well as being one of the most desired woods for baseball bats. Additionally it makes excellent firewood by virtue of its density.
A large, slow-growing tree, the sugar maple can reach heights of up to 35 metres at maturity, in optimal conditions. The tree in this illustration is 30 years old, and has reached 9 metres in height. It has an average lifespan of over 200 years.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions.
What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of the sugar maple in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In a colder climate it might be slower, and in richer soil or warmer climates it might be faster.