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Sweet Sap Silver Maple


The Story of the Sweet Sap Silver Maple

The Sweet Sap Silver Maple is a project that goes back to the 1960’s. H. Cedric Larsson, a regional research forester with the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests in Maple, Ontario, had found a cultivar of Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple) with a notably high sugar content.  The sap from this tree consistently tested in the 3-5% range. Larsson gave some root cuttings to his plant breeder friends- one of whom was Fred Ashworth, the founder of SLN. Fred planted the cuttings and they quickly grew into trees. When Fred died in 1977, Bill MacKentley took over Fred’s home and nursery where one of Fred’s “Sweet Saps” was planted.

The key to distribution of this tree became finding a way that would reliably yield offspring with the same high sugar content. Seedlings are highly variable and root cuttings don’t yield very many trees. Because of the interplay of root and stem in the annual process of sap rising, grafting would not work; the rootstock would exert an influence over the sugar content. When tissue culture came on the broader horticultural scene, Bill decided to give this method a shot for the Sweet Sap. After years of trial and error, he finally found a lab that was able to reliably propagate the Sweet Sap Silver Maple.

Why People Love Them

The importance of this cultivar is not as a replacement for sugar maples, but as an addition. Silver maples are tolerant of wet and/or clay soils; they can therefore be planted in low lands that are not hospitable to sugar maples. They are also very fast-growing, becoming tappable in 8-10 years. This cultivar has a significantly higher-than-average sugar content, proven over many years and over many landscapes. This all means less hauling and less boiling for you!


Sweet Sap Silver Maples are sold at 3-4 ft.

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