Maples Accent Autumn
the many maples recommended for planting in North Carolina landscapes,
none produces more wonderful fall color than the sugar maple,
Acer saccharum. Its dull green summer leaves turn a gorgeous
orange and yellow with the first frosts. Because of its colossal
size, reaching heights greater than 60 feet with similar spread,
it is not the tree for the courtyard or small residential property.
This beauty is a great tree for large yards.
Given plenty of room to mature and precious years, a sugar maple
is almost unsurpassable as a shade tree in the cooler regions
of the Tar Heel state. Sugar maple, like Norway maple, is better
adapted to the Piedmont Triad and westward unless a heat-tolerant
cultivar is selected. It is a slower-growing tree than are red
and silver maples, but this beauty has a desirable symmetrical
form maturing into an upright oval to round tree. Its strong branches
hold up well in ice storms, unlike the silver maple, and are distinguished
by smooth gray bark that provides winter interest. Unfortunately,
you will not see this tree lining many city streets as it is adversely
affected by air pollution in urban environments.
The newer heat-tolerant cultivars offer more latitude when planting
sugar maples in warm Zone 8 landscapes. The cultivar 'Legacy'
has proven superior in the South and appears to be the best of
the drought tolerant cultivars. Of equal reputation is Green Mountain®,
offering dark green leathery foliage with good scorch resistance.
If space is a premium, columnar forms are available, such as Appollo,
a slow-growing tree reaching 30 feet in as many years.
As a whole, the genus Acer is one of the treasure troves
to be found at the JC
Raulston Arboretum where there are dozens of cultivars.
In fact, Appollo is one of their latest accessions and resides
in a new bed adjacent to the parking lot. To learn more, visit
photos Acer saccharum
Photo by Todd Lasseigne
by Robert E. Lyons
by Todd Lasseigne
by Robert E. Lyons