Tree Profiles: Sugar Maple Cultivars, Part 1
This is the first half of a two part series on sugar maple cultivars.
Sugar maple is one the most frequently selected hardwoods for cultivation. The tree’s branch architecture, hardiness, and splendorous fall color make it an ideal choice for planting. Sugar maple cultivars are available for commercial use in retail stores and nurseries across North America. The following examines some of the most notable varieties, including ‘Apollo’, ‘Arrowhead’, ‘Astis’, ‘Bonfire’, ‘Caddo’, ‘Chalk Maple’, ‘Columnar’, ‘Fall Fiesta’, and ‘Goldspire’.
‘Apollo’: ‘Apollo’ sugar maple is a narrow, columnar tree with dense branching, and a compact form. It reaches up to 30 feet in height, with a 10 foot spread. The tree’s unique shape enables it to be planted in tight quarters. Dark green foliage is resistant to summer heat, and turns vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red in fall. ‘Apollo’ exhibits an increased resistance to Japanese beetles.
‘Arrowhead’: ‘Arrowhead’ sugar maple is a dense selection with an upright, pyramidal growth habit. It grows between 50 and 60 feet in height, with a 25 to 35 foot spread. Inconspicuous green flowers emerge just prior to leaf expansion, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in early fall. Foliage is dark green in summer, brightening to shades of yellow, orange, and scarlet in fall.
‘Astis’: ‘Astis’ sugar maple, also referred to as Steeple sugar maple, is a medium sized tree with an upright growth habit, and a symmetrical crown. It grows 45 to 55 feet tall, and 25 to 30 feet wide. Light green flowers emerge in spring, followed by dark green foliage that becomes bright yellow in fall. ‘Astis’ is heat tolerant and drought resistant.
‘Bonfire’: ‘Bonfire’ sugar maple is a dense, tall tree with a high canopy, and an ovate form. It grows at a medium rate, reaching up to 50 feet in height, with a 35 foot spread. ‘Bonfire’ requires full sun exposure, and moist soil conditions to thrive. Pale yellowish-green flowers emerge in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Attractive green foliage turns a resplendent orange in fall.
‘Caddo’: ‘Caddo’ sugar maple is a medium sized tree that flourishes in hot, dry conditions. It has a slow to medium growth rate, reaching heights of 45 to 55 feet, with a 25 to 35 foot spread. Small, green flowers appear in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green foliage turns hues of gold and red in fall. ‘Caddo’ is susceptible to powdery mildew and anthracnose. Pruning is required to maintain a symmetrical appearance.
‘Chalk Maple’: ‘Chalk Maple’, a rare southern variation of sugar maple, is a small tree with an oval to rounded crown, and distinctly chalky white bark. It often establishes multiple trunks unless pruned to a single stem when young. ‘Chalk Maple’ develops at a slow rate, reaching heights of 25 to 30 feet, with a 20 to 25 foot spread. Pale yellowish-green flowers emerge in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Leaves are pale green during summer, and often droop at the tips. The undersides are covered with tiny yellowish glands. Leaves present a spectacular fall display, ranging from yellow-orange to a deep scarlet.
‘Columnar’: ‘Columnar’ sugar maple is a dense, medium sized tree with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. It develops at a slow rate, reaching up to 40 feet tall, and 12 feet wide. ‘Columnar’ requires full sunlight to flourish. Small greenish-yellow flowers emerge in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green foliage turns a vibrant gold in fall.
‘Fall Fiesta’: ‘Fall Fiesta’ sugar maple, also sold under the name ‘Bailsta’, is a tall, vigorous selection. It develops quickly, reaching heights of 60 to 75 feet, with a 30 to 45 foot spread. ‘Fall Fiesta’ has an appealing upright growth habit, and a rounded, symmetrical form. Small green flowers bloom in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green foliage has a leathery texture. Leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and scarlet in fall. ‘Fall Fiesta’ exhibits an increased resistance to leaf scorch, and drought.
‘Goldspire’: ‘Goldspire’ sugar maple is a narrow, medium sized selection that grows 40 to 50 feet tall, with a 12 to 15 foot spread. It has a dense, columnar growth habit. Inconspicuous green flowers appear in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green leaves turn golden yellow in autumn, sometimes with an orange tinge.
If you have any questions about sugar maple cultivars, or you are interested in one of our tree services, contact us at 978-468-6688, or Sales@IronTreeService.com. We are available 24/7, and can accommodate any schedule. All estimates are free of charge. We look forward to hearing from you.
Photo courtesy of James St. John/CC-by-A2.0