Sugar maple is a northerly species that is found in northwest Frederick County at higher elevations on cooler north-facing slopes. This tree prefers deep, moist, well-drained soils, and is found mostly in ravines, moist terraces, or along stream corridors. Sugar maple often grows alongside white oak, red oak, tulip poplar, red maple, beech, yellow birch, white pine, hemlock, and basswood trees. This species is very shade tolerant; its seeds will germinate and develop in the shade, as will the young trees, which will continue to grow in the shade until they exploit a hole in the canopy and become dominant trees in the forest. A beech-maple forest is a name given to a climax forest community, so named because the tree composition will not change much unless there is some kind of disturbance. In our region, most oak-hickory forests will eventually succeed to a beech-maple forest, unless there is a significant disturbance to set back forest succession.
Sugar maple is a tree that can grow to a very old age and become quite large. Old growth sugar maple forests have trees that are nearly six feet in diameter, 110 feet tall, and have an estimated age of 200 – 400 years. Commonly known as “hard maple,” this prized lumber in the northern states sometimes displays a bird’s eye figure that makes it quite attractive and well sought after. Most of our maple syrup is derived from the tapping of sugar maples in sugar bushes. Also a common landscape tree, it often has a bright yellow fall leaves. The sugar maple is the state tree of New York, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Article by FCFCDB
Header photo credit: frederick.forestryboard.org - David Barrow
Nature note for 3/5/2021