Sugar maple has been tapped for syrup production since the first European settlers saw native Americans doing it in the 1600s, and is still an important industry and hobby in the northeast. It has always been valued as a timber species because of the wood's hardness and beauty. Its uses have included lumber for general construction, flooring, furniture, cabinet work, woodenware, and baseball bats. The high density of sugar maple wood makes it a popular fuel for home heating. Sugar maple is a popular ornamental tree because of its tolerance to shade, spreading form, and brilliant autumn foliage.
Culture for Sugar Maple
Can survive in many soil types and conditions, but grows best on deep, moist, and well drained soils with medium or fine textures. Typically grows on glacial soils in the northeast with pH of 5.5 to 7.3. Shade tolerant, but grows well in full sun.
Concerns about Sugar Maple
Structural defects due to codominant stems can develop if not corrected when young. Sugar maple is very sensitive to high levels of sodium in the soil, typically from application of road salt. Not a good species for urban sites due to sensitivity to salt and environmental extremes. Prone to girdling roots when planted deep or over mulched.
Management Practices for Sugar Maple
Typically requires structural pruning when young to produce a strong central leader, or cabling if multiple leaders develop. Root collars should always be exposed.