Also called sweet maple or rock maple, this deciduous tree is native to temperate hardwood forests across the northeastern US and southeastern Canada. The cold winters in this range are essential to the sugar maple’s production of clear sap, which can be then collected by tapping the trees and boiled down to maple syrup. Its deeply notched leaf, with two pointed basal lobes and three larger tri-pointed lobes, closely resembles the red leaf of the Canadian flag, though it was not designed to be a particular species of maple.
Given its impressive shade tolerance, this hardwood may persist and germinate as an understory plant, often responding to light from canopy gaps with rapid growth. After a minimum of 30 years, these maples may start bearing their winged seeds, shedding them in autumn so that the following winter temperatures may break down their coating. The following spring, these seeds may germinate in warmed soils. Though typical sugar maples reach heights from 80 – 115 ft and live around 200 years, some may tower around 150 ft and surpass 300 years of age.