Sugar maple is not just a northern U.S. tree. You can find sugar maple from Florida to Maine. However, the leaf is memorialized on Canada's flag and sugar maple tree sap is the backbone of Vermont's syrup industry. The beautiful fall foliage of New England, which includes sugar maple, attracts millions of leaf "peepers" and their dollars into the northeast U.S. region.
The sugar maple tree is the principal source of maple sugar. The trees are tapped early in the spring for the first flow of sap, which usually has the highest sugar content. The sap is collected and boiled or evaporated to a syrup. Further concentration by evaporation produces the maple sugar. Sugar maple sap averages about 2.5 percent sugar; about 34 gallons of sap are required to make 1 gallon of syrup or 8 pounds of sugar.
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of sugar maple. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Sapindales > Aceraceae > Acer saccharum Marshall. Sugar maple is also commonly called hard maple or rock maple.
The Range of Sugar Maple
The northern limit of sugar maple extends eastward from the extreme southeast corner of Manitoba, through central Ontario, the southern third of Quebec and all of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Within the United States the species is found throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and the middle Atlantic States, extending southwestward through central New Jersey to the Appalachian Mountains, then southward through the western edge of North Carolina to the southern border of Tennessee. The western limit extends through Missouri into a small area of Kansas, the eastern one-third of Iowa, and the eastern two-thirds of Minnesota. A few outlier communities are found in northern Kansas, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
Leaf: Opposite, simple and palmately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, 5 delicately rounded lobes, entire margin; green above, paler below.
Twig: Brown, slender and shiny with lighter lenticels; terminal buds brown, very sharp pointed, with tight scales.