Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar Maple is a favorite shade tree with reliable fall color, found in the forests and meadows throughout all of Ohio, but flourishing in the cooler climates and more acidic soils of northeastern Ohio and Appalachia. It is valued for its hard, dense, fine-grained and difficult-to-split wood, which is utilized for floors, furniture, veneer, musical instruments, and railroad ties.
The hardness of the wood gives it the alternative common name of Rock Maple.

Native Americans invented the process of maple sap collection and its distillation into maple sugar and maple syrup. If you are interested in learning more about the sugaring process, there is a workshop scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Feb 11th. Click on the Education icon above for a flyer and more information. A native of southern Canada, the greater Midwest, and the Northeastern United States, trees found in the open may easily grow to 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide. As a member of the Maple Family, it is related to all other species of Maple.

Planting Requirements - Sugar Maple thrives when it is planted or transplanted into rich, moderately deep soils having even moisture coupled with good drainage. While it prefers acidic soils, it adapts readily to those of neutral or alkaline pH. Clay soils cause it to struggle more in terms of root penetration to tap into deep soil moisture in times of drought.
The key to the preservation of established Sugar Maples is to not disturb the roots by extensive digging, or compact the soil above them with heavy equipment or vehicles, or a serious decline in tree health will likely occur. Sugar Maple adapts to shady conditions in its youth, but must eventually grow in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 8.

Potential Problems - Sugar Maple does not perform nearly as well in the southern limits of its range (zones 7 and 8), where the heat, humidity, and drought of summer take their toll. More commonly, encroachment of construction traffic and the associated soil compaction, soil grade change, root disturbance, and various pollutions associated with housing construction and subsequent urban conditions do not favor established Sugar Maples, and they often respond with a rapid decline or death when their forest is converted into a subdivision. Sugar Maple also does not like being transplanted into heavy clay soils or to long periods of drought in summer. Verticillium wilt is an occasional disease primarily occurring in wet springs, and leaf scorch is a perennial problem when drought occurs.

The Sugar Maple is one of 8 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2012 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District. Other seedlings include white pine, red pine, black walnut, sawtooth oak, American plum, redbud, and flowering dogwood. The district will also offer 2 varieties of blueberry, a red raspberry, and a gold raspberry. For more information and to print an order blank, please click on the Tree Sale icon above.

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