Temple's Upright Sugar Maple

Temple's Upright Sugar Maple
Family Aceraceae.
Well-known for its columnar shape and dense canopy, this lovely maple is well-suited to restricted spaces.

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Temple's Upright Sugar Maple fall foliage
In my humble opinion, the Sugar Maple is the king of showy autumn foliage; its brilliant yellow to orange-red foliage simply screams, especially in direct sunlight (pics of conventional sugar maples HERE). I happened across this stunning tree at the Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois. The University of Florida says it's a slow-to-moderate grower to 60 feet with a spread of 15 feet or less [2]; this specimen is surely all that at 54 years.

Sometimes called hard maple or rock maple, this is one of the largest and most important of our North American hardwoods. Sugar Maple grows on approximately 31 million acres (about 9%) of the hardwood forests in midwest and northeast North America. The greatest commercial sawtimber volumes are presently harvested in Michigan, New York, Maine, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In most regions, both the sawtimber and growing stock volumes are increasing, with increased production of saw logs, pulpwood, and more recently, firewood.

Temple's Upright Sugar Maple in fall colors

This unusual columnar sugar maple is 54 years old [1]

Sugar maple grows only in regions with relatively with cool, moist climates. They grow best with ranges in temperature from -40° F. in the north to 100° F. in the southwestern areas. Occasional extremes may be more than 20° F. lower or higher than these. It is expected the current man-made rise in global temperature will be deleterious to the species. Rainfall requirements are between about 20 inches and 100 inches. It is not known how global climate change will affect rainfall, although the vast majority of scientific data suggest there will be an increase in short and long-term droughts in areas previously unafflicted thus. The dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels due to man's burning of fossil fuels may benefit the trees, however.

The fruit of the sugar maple, called a samara, is a double-winged, papery seed-bearing fruit, commonly called a "helicopter" or "whirlybird." The aerodynamic properties allow the seeds to be dispersed, in a fresh breeze, more than 100 meters (330 feet) from the parent tree. A mature sugar maple can produce between 3,000 and 9,000 pounds of seeds each season. I can personally attest to that, as I have several on my property!

See also: Type species and Green Mountain Sugar Maples

1. Temple's Upright Sugar Maple, Morton Arboretum accession 655-56-3, photos by Bruce Marlin
2. University of Florida EDIS 'Temple's Upright'
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Family Aceraceae – Maples
The Maples are some of our most familiar and beloved trees.  Most are native to the far east: China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria. Maples produce a distinctive winged fruit called a samara, also commonly known as helicopters or whirlybirds.
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