Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Acer saccharum

Leaves are simple, opposite, deciduous, and 3-5 lobed with round sinuses, very pointed lobes and smooth margins. Leaves turn bright orange-red in the fall. Twigs are shiny, reddish-brown with V-shaped leaf scars. Buds are pointed and brown. Bark is brown-gray and smooth becoming furrowed, scaly, and plated on older trees. Fruit is a reddish-brown double samara. Form is up to 35 m (115 ft) in height and 1 m (3 ft) in diameter. Sugar maple grows on moist, well-drained soils in the eastern and central U.S., and is found in the southern Appalachians. This tree is very tolerant of shade. The wood is hard and close-grained and used for furniture, flooring and veneer. Seeds are eaten by birds and small animals. A popular ornamental for the fall color but it needs a moist, cool site.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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