Acer saccharum subsp. grandidentatum
Common Name: bigtooth maple
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Sapindaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in moist soils in full sun. Seems to have slightly better tolerance for heat and drought than sugar maple species plants which grow in eastern and central North America.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer saccharum commonly known as sugar maple is a deciduous, Missouri native tree which will typically grow 40' to 80' tall (sometimes to 100') with a dense, rounded crown. This tree is a main component of the Eastern U.S. hardwood forest and is one of the trees which is most responsible for giving New England its reputation for spectacular fall color. Medium green leaves (3-6" wide with 3-5 lobes) turn yellow-orange in autumn, sometimes with considerable color variations. Fruit is the familiar two-winged samara. Sugar maples are long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly (somewhat faster in the first 35 years). Native Americans taught the early colonists how to tap these trees to make maple syrup which has now become a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and Canada. Excellent shade tree. The sugar maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada.

Subsp. grandidentatum (sometimes listed as Acer grandidentatum) is often referred to as the western version of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), except it typically grows shorter (shrublike in some environments and climates) and its leaves are smaller with blunt teeth. It occurs infrequently in scattered populations from Montana south through Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas to Coahuila, Mexico, with a concentration centered in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. It is most often seen growing in valleys, canyons, foothills, slopes and mountain stream banks at elevations of 3000-7000', but may also occasionally be found growing in some low desert areas. It is known by a large number of common names including bigtooth maple, Wasatch maple, canyon maple and western sugar maple. Plant size is greatly influenced by moisture, climate and growing conditions. Shrub forms (often found in drier sites such as canyon slopes) grow to 10-20' tall and tree forms (often found in moist sites such as canyon floors) grow to as much as 50' tall. Plants grown in cultivation most often grow as small trees rising to 20-30' tall and as wide. Dark green leaves (each to 4" long and as wide) have 3-5 blunt lobes. Three upper lobes are large, but the two lower lobes are usually suppressed or absent. Fall color ranges from red to yellow to orange. Apetulous yellow-green flowers in pendant clusters (to 2" long) bloom in spring (April-May). Flowers are followed by samaras in pairs which mature in fall. Smooth, thin, gray-brown bark. Tree sap may be tapped for syrup that is equal in quality to that obtained from species plants.

Genus name is the Latin name for a maple tree.

Specific epithet means having large teeth in obvious reference to the leaf teeth on this subspecies as memorialized by the common name of bigtooth maple.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Potential disease problems include verticillium wilt, anthracnose, root rot and cankers. Potential insect problems include aphids and borers. Watch for mites.

Garden Uses

Small landscape tree.