Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Plant of the Week: Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

This is one of my favorite trees to see in the fall as the leaf color can range from bright yellow to orange to red.  It is fond of our calcareous soils and is an easy to grow tree that provides wonderful shade and you can even tap it for maple syrup if you are so inclined. This is such a stately tree that it is the state tree of Wisconsin, Vermont, West Virginia, and New York. Some botanists consider the black and bigleaf maples (out west) to be varieties of subspecies of the sugar maple. This is a relatively slow growing species that likes full sun and well-drained, evenly moist soil.  It is predicted this species will decline in many areas of the country as a consequence of global climate change because it can not tolerate extended hot, dry periods and likes cooler, more moist habitats in the wild. This is one of the primary species that gives spectacular color in New England and is the primary species for which sugar maple syrup is extracted.  However, there are a variety of different cultivars on the market like Caddo, that is a more compact species which reaches heights of about 30' (rather than 60 to 70') and is more drought and heat tolerant.  Several other varieties that are heat and drought tolerant include Green Mountain and Legacy. Sometimes people confused sugar maple with red maple and there is a simple way to tell the difference between the two and that is to look at the U shaped connections between the 3 - 5 lobes versus the V shaped connections in the red maple. This species is largely disease free and appears to handle a fair amount of air pollution making it an excellent urban tree, better in my opinion than red, Norway, or silver maples that are more commonly planted.

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