In 1956, the government of New York state chose the sugar maple as a symbol of the region. The sugar maple produces maple syrup and grows in many other U.S. states, as well as forming part of the Canadian flag. This state tree of New York can grow up to 110 feet (about 34m) tall, and is deciduous, which means that it loses its leaves every year.
The technical name for sugar maple is Acer saccharum. This state tree of New York is also the state tree of Wisconsin, Vermont and West Virginia. The tree grows in the states on the northeast corner of the U.S., such as New England, and downwards as far south as Tennessee. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sugar maple only grows in some parts of Canada.
Sugar maple is a specific type of maple among almost 100 other maple species in the country, but it is the most common of those that grow in New York State. The attraction of the sugar maple stems from the sap that the tree produces in spring. This sap contains lots of sugars, and humans like to eat it, as it goes well with pancakes or bacon.
To get at the sap, people cut through the trunk, drain the sap out and boil it to concentrate it into syrup. Native Americans first discovered the knack of tapping sugar maples, and the European settlers copied them. As well as maple syrup, the state tree of New York is also a good source of wood. This wood is suitable for firewood and for furniture.
Typically, the state tree of New York is about 80 feet (roughly 24 m) in height. If a tree grows among other tall trees, it becomes tall and produces lots of branches at the top of the tree. When a tree has room and sunlight to grow outward, it produces more branches lower down the trunk, at opposite sides to each other.
When the large leaves are on the tree from spring to fall, they have five points and are smooth to the touch. Another maple species, red maple, can have a similar appearance, but its leaves have sharp gaps between the points, compared to the rounder gaps of sugar maple. When the flowers grow, after the leaves develop in spring, they are green and yellow in color. Trees that are 30 years old or more also produces fruit from fertilized flowers.