The sugar maple (acer saccharum) is one of the most photographed and famous trees in the world. The tree is found mostly in the eastern provinces of Canada and in the U.S. ranging from Minnesota to Tennessee to Maine. A healthy sugar maple can live to be over 400 years old and grow to around 115 feet with some making it to 145 feet in height. The tree is distinctive in fall for its bold foliage making it popular with photographers. The tree favors a cooler climate and are most numerous in Canada and in the U.S. around the Great Lakes to New England.

The tree engages in hydraulic lift bringing water from lower in the soil to the upper reaches which benefits not only the sugar maple but the flora around it as well. The tree however is in decline as soil acidification and acid rain become more prevalent. The tree used to be common along street fronts in urban New England but road salt has killed off many of them and they have been replaced with the sturdier Norway maple.

Many people mistakenly believe that the leaf of this tree is the red maple leaf featured on the Canadian flag and while it does resemble the sugar maple leaf the symbol was not intended to resemble any specific leaf. It is the symbol of Canada due to another popular Canadian export, maple syrup. Along with the black maple, syrup is extracted by drilling a hole into the tree, collecting its sap and boiling the water off, leaving pure maple syrup. Yum!

If you enjoy bowling then the sugar maple is indispensable as its wood is used to make bowling alleys and pins. Its wood is also used for basketball courts, including those in the NBA, baseball bats, violins, guitars, drum shells, and archery bows. Canadian maples are used for pool cues. It is the state tree of New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Vermont and is featured on the reverse of the latter’s state quarter.