Sugar maple is a common species found throughout the entirety of Michigan, though it is not a generalist like the red maple. In northern hardwood forests, it is a dominant species because it is quite tolerant of shade. The common name stems from the sugar maple being used for maple syrup and sugar production.
Sugar maple has leaves that are usually 5-lobed. The lobes near the base of the leaf tend to be wider and more rounded in shape. The leaves are a dark yellowish green above and a lighter green color on the underside. The sugar maple’s leaves turn yellow, orange, or red in the fall.
Sugar maples have dark gray bark with furrowed ridges, not as easily identifiable compared to other Michigan tree species.
The fruit of a sugar maple is called a samara, more commonly known as “helicopters” due to the swirling motion they make as they fall to the ground. The wings on the sugar maple’s samaras are nearly parallel with one another, sometimes forming a “u” shape between the wings.
Department of Natural Resources