Sugar maple, one of America’s most versatile and beloved trees, is the official state tree of West Virginia and several other states. Unsurpassed as a shade tree with brilliant fall colors, sugar maple also provides valuable timber and maple syrup.
Sugar maple grows in well-drained soils throughout southeastern Canada and most of the eastern United States. While more common at higher elevations, fine specimens may be found in all 55 counties of West Virginia. A tree in Bethany, 5.6 feet in diameter and 110 feet tall, was once considered the world’s largest living sugar maple.
Shade-tolerant sugar maple seedlings more often mature into trees with trunk diameters of 20 to 36 inches and heights of 70 to 100 feet. Watery sap may be collected and boiled down in late winter to yield maple syrup and sugar. The heavy, hard, strong, very resilient wood is ideal for bowling alleys. Other uses include furniture, flooring, toys, and fuel. The tree’s versatility, familiarity, and beauty made it an obvious choice for schoolchildren whose 1949 voting helped sugar maple become West Virginia’s official state tree.
This Article was written by Jon Weems
Last Revised on November 05, 2010