University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #ENH166

Acer floridanum: Florida Maple1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

Florida maple is native to Florida and naturally occurs primarily in the pandhandle, with small isolated populations in Central Florida. Some authorities treat Florida maple as a subspecies of sugar maple and call it Acer saccharum ssp. Floridanum, while other authorities use Acer barbatum or Acer barbatum ssp. Floridanum to refer to Florida maple. The deciduous Florida maple (Acer floridanum) reaches 50 to 60 feet in height but is most often seen at 20 to 30 feet. Displaying muted yellow or orange fall leaf color, Florida maple is suitable for use as a specimen, park or street tree, or for use in woodland areas. The round- to oval-growth habit makes it an ideal shade or street tree. The edges of the leaves turn under slightly, giving them a distinct appearance. The trunk on older specimens resembles that on the northern sugar maple, which is an attractive gray with longitudinal ribs.

Figure 1. 

Full Form - Acer floridanum: Florida maple


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Acer floridanum

Pronunciation: AY-ser flor-i-da-num

Common name(s): Florida maple, southern sugar maple

Family: sapindaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 6B through 9A (Figure 2)

Origin: native to southeastern United States

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native

Uses: highway median; shade; street without sidewalk; deck or patio; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft. wide; Bonsai

Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 20 to 60 feet

Spread: 25 to 40 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: round, oval

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: lobed, entire, undulate

Leaf shape: star-shaped

Leaf venation: palmate

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 1 ½ to 3 ½ inches

Leaf color: green on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: orange, yellow

Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf - Acer floridanum: Florida maple


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: yellow green

Flower characteristics: not showy; small and emerges in clusters on stalks

Flowering: early spring, with new leaves

Fruit

Fruit shape: rounded, 2-winged samara

Fruit length: ½ to 1 ½ inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard

Fruit color: brown, green

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Fruiting: mid summer

Figure 4. 

Fruit, Young - Acer floridanum: Florida maple


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Figure 5. 

Fruit, Mature - Acer floridanum: Florida maple


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: light gray and smooth, becoming irregularly ridged and breaking into plates with age

Pruning requirement: strongest branch architecture develops when pruned to one dominant leader

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 6. 

Bark - Acer floridanum: Florida maple


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Culture

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: none

Other

Roots: can develop shallow roots

Winter interest: yes

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Growing in full sun or partial shade, Florida maple will tolerate a wide variety of soil types but is not salt-tolerant. Established trees look better when given some irrigation during dry weather. While leaves will eventually fall, many remain in the central portion of the canopy for much of the winter, giving the tree a somewhat unkempt appearance. The limbs of maple are strong and not susceptible to wind damage. Roots are often shallow and reach the surface at an early age, even in sandy soil. Plant in an area where grass below it will not need to be mowed so the roots will not be damaged by the mower.

Available cultivars include: `Endowment Columnar', columnar form, red and yellow fall color; `Goldspire', dense, compact, pyramidal form, gold fall color; `Majesty', ovate form, resistant to frost cracking and sun scald, red-orange fall color; and `Sweet Shadow Cutleaf', unusual vase-shaped growth form and variable yellow-orange fall color.

Propagation is by seeds or cuttings.

Pests

Cottony Maple scale, borers, aphids, and gall mites may be problems for Florida Maple.

Diseases

Florida Maple can be susceptible to a wilt disease

Reference

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH166, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL 32611; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), Wimauma, FL 33598; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.