Sugar or Red?

So does this leaf belong to a sugar maple or a red maple?

Here is the back story. I keep thinking this small 6′ tall tree we have is a sugar maple. But Dave (my dh) swears (not really) that he planted a red maple there. He even has a really long, involved story that I shan’t bore you with about WHY he is positive he planted a red maple there.

But I went out back to mow on this lovely day and there it stands shimmering in a lovely autumnal glory. And I swear (not really) that it looks like a sugar maple!!

It's small yet but one day it will be autumnal glory!

Any opinions? If you think I’m correct let me know. If you think my husband is, keep your opinions to yourself! 😀

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13 Responses to Sugar or Red?

  1. Dan Shaw says:

    I think that leaf belongs in the mulch bin… Other than that you know I have no clue. Remember I’m the one who has a theory that if it doesn’t move when I’m mowing it must be a weed.

  2. Stan Short says:

    Sugar Maple grows very slowly, usually about 12″ each year for the next 100-150 years, to a maximum height of about 120 ft.

    Red Maple grows at about twice that rate or about 2 ft. per year to a mature height of 60-80 ft.

    BTW, that’s a red. Sugar has more defined points, Red has shorter points with more jaggeds…

  3. Stan Short says:

    I found a picture….

  4. glorylennon says:

    My goodness, Julie. I have a post about this exact topic and I even mention you in it. You must have missed it.;postID=4722001785842018011.
    But as to what your tree could be, I would go with sugar maple. Who told Dave it was a red maple? Are the leaves red during summer? Dave, please forgive me, you may have gotten this tree from a reputable nursery and it very well may have had a tag on it, but that doesn’t mean the tag nor the people growing the poor little sapling or selling it at their nursery knew a sugar maple from a swamp maple. Believe me on this! I have encountered many people–too many in my opinion– who should know what they are selling and yet they don’t know even as much as I do! What the hay, huh?

    • Julie Helms says:

      I did see your post, but I went and looked again (your link doesn’t work–it just took me to a sign up for blogger) and you are just as confused as I am, LOL!! No, we didn’t get it from a nursery. Dave thinks he dug it up as a self-seeded treelet from my mom’s garden which would make it a red.

      I guess, in the final analysis, as long as I think it *looks* like a Sugar Maple, does it really matter? 😀

  5. Julie, it could easily be a sugar maple, there are some variations within the species here that look just like that. Sugar maples start out small, often with multiple trunks, and the leaves do get very red in the fall. If you want to be sure, wait until spring when the sap is running, poke a tiny hole in the bark and taste the sap. The sap of a true sugar maple distinctively sweet. The ordinary sap in our trees seems almost as sweet as corn syrup.

  6. Laura says:

    I find that there is HUGE variation especially in red maples because they’ve been so heavily bred for color etc. A quick check that should always work is to snap the leaf off at the petiole and a red maple will have a milky sap come out – not so in a sugar maple. If it’s one from my garden, Dave might possibly be sort of right… In New England, the old Sugar Maples were late to color – not until the end of October usually, and the Reds were early. Now a guaranteed Sugar struggling valiantly in our lawn is the first to color in late September. There is just no trusting what’s coming out of the breeding now.

  7. Julie, check out my latest blog post on Incoming Bytes for some pics of my TRUE sugar-maple leaves. These trees have very sweet sap, far sweeter than ordinary maples. The leaves do turn very red too, but interestingly, not necessarily every year. There are other maple hybrids which you can use the ‘less-sweet’ sap from, but then you can also get sap from birch trees and make very good syrup too! Your young tree does look much like mine did when they were small.

  8. mybabyjohn says:

    Looks like a sugar maple to me. a red maple has dark reddy brown leaves in the summer…yours looks to have a back colour of yellow…We had a red maple and you really can’t see much difference in the leaves come fall..they just curl up and fall off.

    • Julie Helms says:

      I think what you may be possibly describing is not a red maple but a red sport of a Norway maple. I am going to do another maple post on Monday and include pictures of our Norway– they are reddish/maroony leaves all summer that just die and fall off in the winter. Our known red maples have bright green leaves during the summer and then vibrant red in the fall (also reddish in spring when blooming).

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