maple, or hard maple, is common only on the cool slopes of our
higher mountains. It generally is a slow-growing tree but grows
faster in the open. Its foliage provides heavy shade.
Sugar maple leaves are opposite, palmately lobed and veined and
have five lobes (in rare cases, three lobes) that are separated
by rounded, shallow sinuses. Leaves are 3 to 5 inches in both
length and width. They are heart-shaped, with sparse, large, pointed
teeth on the margins. In autumn, sugar maple leaves are exceptionally
colorful, turning brilliant shades of red and yellow.
Sugar maple flowers are yellow, and grow on long, slender stems
in clusters up to 3 inches long. They appear with leaves in spring.
The fruit, a U-shaped pair of winged seeds, ripens in the fall.
The bark of mature trees is thick, light gray to brown and is
broken by vertical furrows into plate-like scales. The sap is
used to make maple syrup and maple sugar.
The pale brown or pink wood is hard, heavy, strong and close grained.
It is known commercially as hard maple and is used in the manufacture
of flooring, furniture and a great variety of novelties such as
toys, coat-hangers, and turnery.
Chalk maple, black maple and Florida maple are varieties of sugar
maple that grow in North Carolina and have been described as three
Black maple grows in the mountains; chalk maple grows in the Piedmont;
and Florida maple grows in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. The
leaves of each of these trees are smaller than those of sugar
maple; all typically are three-lobed, with few, if any, serrations.