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A favorite of leaf-peepers and nature-lovers across the Northeast, Sugar Maple benefits backyard birds as well. In autumn, this exquisite native shade tree draws in tourists with its fiery colors, but throughout the year it attracts birds with its more subtle charms. Flycatchers and vireos nest in the safety of its branches. Finches and grosbeaks feed on its seeds, buds, and flowers. Warblers and tanagers dine on caterpillars they find munching on its leaves. And woodpeckers peck on Sugar Maple’s soft bark to extract insects hiding inside. A welcoming tree for all!
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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A majestic native tree cherished for its magnificent fall color and handsome form—not to mention as the source of maple syrup—the Sugar Maple Tree has a special place in nearly every Northerner’s heart. (This is also the leaf on the Canadian flag.) It ranges from eastern Canada down to much of the eastern U.S., flourishing where summers are cool. A climax species, Sugar Maple bides its time in the shade of other trees until it can take advantage of a break in the canopy and assume its place in the upper ranks of the forest. It can live 300 to 400 years.
Sugar Maple flowers make a lovely show in April. The delicate chartreuse blossoms dangle from every branch tip and glow in the soft spring sunlight. The flowers are mostly wind-pollinated, but bees do gather the pollen.
How to Grow
Sugar Maple performs best in cool northern climates; it will be slower-growing and its fall color will be more of a yellow-orange in the South. Plant this regal tree in full sun to light shade in rich, well-drained soil and water regularly. A layer of wood or bark mulch will help keep the roots cool and moist. In most cases, Sugar Maple is not a great tree for the city, but in rural and suburban neighborhoods, where the tree can stretch out its roots and isn’t bothered by pollution, it is stellar.
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