the western sugar maple

Found some pictures Cindy took of the bigtooth, Wasatch, or canyon maple, Acer grandidentatum in the back yard. I bought these for $6.25 at the old Hampden West Nursery, about 1988. They get water, and so are about 20 feet tall now. They were afflicted with anthracnose last year after a relatively wet spring; I removed infected leaves and branches and everything seemed fine this summer.

Early Mormon settlers tapped these for syrup; when the sap is running I can see why. In fact, some botanists consider this to be just a shrubby western “expression” of the eastern sugar maple, Acer saccharum. Whatever. Here, they’re trees; single-trunked, with no sign of forming additional trunks. I picked up another one a while back, called ‘Manzano’, which is supposed to be more tree-like, though how much more tree-like than the ones already here, I don’t know. Maybe extra tree-like. I hope that doesn’t mean “gets huge and leaves trillions of seedlings everywhere”.

‘Manzano’ is planted to replace an Acer ginnala which has suddenly gone downhill. The spiralling gashes in the bark suggest that it was hit by lightning, which can cause anything to go downhill.

Something we don’t see here very often, leaves rimmed with ice.

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6 Responses to the western sugar maple

  1. Desert Dweller says:

    Manzano…must be from the huge stands of rather large A. grandidentatum in the canyons and some slopes of the Manzano Mtns, just 20 miles SE of me on the wet side. The most I’ve seen anywhere in NM or AZ.

    It does bring up if they are a species or just a geographic subspecies or variant? They are down in the southern TX Hill Country, Caddo Canyons W of Okla City, etc.

    • paridevita says:

      David, Pretty sure that’s where it comes from. When I got it, it was a 2 ft tall stick in a small container, not enough roots for the stick to pump water to all its leaves, and it was in a place that didn’t get enough water, so I moved it to a place that will (until the water apocalypse anyway), so hopefully the roots will grow in proportion to the stick.
      I guess the name Manzano is trademarked, so it’s not a cultivar name. I wonder if that applies to the mountains now, too.
      The reason why some botanists don’t want this to be a western expression of the sugar maple, aside from the perceived geographical separation, is that if easterners get to call Acers saccharum, nigrum, and barbatum three separate species, well, then, we get to call the western sugar maple a separate species too. It all sounds pretty huffy to me.


  2. Diane says:

    A. grandidentatum – one of my absolute favorites in my 8,000′ “landscape.” One of mine was about 10 feet tall when it got broken about half way down a couple of years back under heavy snow. Now it’s about 7 feet tall and VERY shrubby!

    • paridevita says:

      Diane, I think one of mine got hit by lightning, too; forgot that when I posted.
      George Kelly said “a row of these would be so spectacular it might be worthwhile to humor them a little.” I assume he meant with decent soil and watering. Mine are growing in deep creek-bottom loam.
      I should make a list of plants I would still water after the garden becomes almost completely irrigation free (I figure within the next five years);the maples would be on the list.


  3. gorgeous photos capture the essence…

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