Tree Profiles: Sugar Maple Cultivars, Part 2
This is the second 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 ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Inferno’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Lord Selkirk’, ‘Monumentale’, ‘Sweet Shadow’, ‘Southern’, and ‘Unity’.
‘Green Mountain’: ‘Green Mountain’ is one of the most popular sugar maple cultivars. It is notable for its rapid growth rate, reaching heights of 40 to 60 feet, with a 25 to 45 foot spread. ‘Green Mountain’ has a broad, pyramidal crown, and strong branch architecture. Branches are thickened, and can generally withstand exposure to heavy winds, and inclement weather. Pale yellowish-green flowers appear in spring, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in fall. Deeply cut, dark green leaves transition to vibrant shades of orange and scarlet in fall.
‘Inferno’: ‘Inferno’ sugar maple is a medium sized selection notable for its cold hardiness, and appealing ovate form. It reaches up to 40 feet in height, with a 30 foot spread. Small green flowers bloom in spring, followed by samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green foliage turns a deep scarlet in autumn.
‘Legacy’: ‘Legacy’ sugar maple is a popular selection renown for its shade tolerance, sweet sap, and gorgeous fall color. It has a medium growth rate. When mature, ‘Legacy’ reaches heights of 40 to 50 feet, with a 30 to 40 foot spread. Inconspicuous green flowers appear in spring, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in fall. ‘Legacy’ has a symmetrical, rounded canopy, and glossy, dark green foliage that is resistant to leaf scorch, and drought. Leaves brighten in autumn, displaying resplendent shades of orange and scarlet.
‘Lord Selkirk’: ‘Lord Selkirk’ sugar maple is a medium sized selection that grows up to 40 feet tall, and 30 feet wide. It develops at a slow rate, and prefers full sun exposure. Notable for its cold hardiness and soil adaptability, ‘Lord Selkirk’ has an ovate form, and features a high canopy. Small green flowers bloom in spring, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green foliage persists throughout the growing season, with fall coloration ranging from yellow and gold to orange.
‘Monumentale’: ‘Monumentale’ sugar maple, also called ‘Temple’s Upright’, is a unique selection with a distinctly narrow form, and an upright growth habit. While its slender frame is its most distinguishing trait, ‘Monumentale’ is also notable for its cold hardiness, which enables it to withstand harsh, frigid temperatures. ‘Monumentale’ is a medium sized tree, reaching up to 50 feet in height. It does not exceed more than 3 feet in diameter. Dark green leaves resemble stars, and are held aloft by tiny limbs. In fall, leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and scarlet.
‘Sweet Shadow’: ‘Sweet Shadow’ sugar maple is a medium sized tree with a rounded, upright growth habit. It is noted for its deeply cut leaves, and brilliant fall color. ‘Sweet Shadow’ reaches heights of 45 to 50 feet, with a 35 to 45 foot spread. Pale yellowish-green flowers appear in spring, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in fall. Dark green leaves are deeply cut. By autumn, they turn bright orange.
‘Southern’: ‘Southern’ sugar maple is a small, spreading tree. It grows 20 to 25 feet tall, with a 15 to 20 foot spread. ‘Southern’ is similar to the parent species, resembling it in all but stature. Small green flowers blossom in spring, followed by clusters of samaras that ripen in fall. Leaves are pale green, with fuzzy undersides. They turn pale shades of orange and yellow in fall.
‘Unity’: ‘Unity’ sugar maple is a slow growing cultivar that is ideal for cold climates. It is the hardiest variety of sugar maple, exhibiting an increased resistance to frost cracking. ‘Unity’ is adaptable to a wide range of soils. It requires full sunlight to thrive, and is susceptible to air pollution, and compacted soil. ‘Unity’ can reach up to 40 feet in height, with a 30 foot spread. It has an ovate form, and a high canopy. Dark green leaves are attached to long petioles. Leaves turn bright orange in fall.
Photo: Public Domain