Acer floridanum (Chapm.) Pax

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Dan Crowley (2024)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2024), 'Acer floridanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-06-15.


Common Names

  • Florida Maple
  • Florida Sugar Maple
  • Southern Sugar Maple


  • Acer barbatum f. floridanum (Chapm.) Fernald
  • Acer barbatum var. floridanum (Chapm.) Sarg.
  • Acer floridanum var. villipes Rehder
  • Acer nigrum var. floridanum (Chapm.) Fosberg
  • Acer saccharum subsp. floridanum (Chapm.) Desmarais
  • Acer saccharinum subsp. floridanum (Chapm.) Wesm.
  • Acer saccharinum var. floridanum Chapm.
  • Saccharodendron floridanum (Chapm.) Nieuwl.

Other taxa in genus


Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).


Dan Crowley (2024)

Recommended citation
Crowley, D. (2024), 'Acer floridanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-06-15.

A deciduous tree typically to 18 m. Bark pale grey when young, turning darker and fissuring at the base with age. Branchlets glabrous to tomentose, greenish at first, turning light red to brown, with small, pale lenticels. Buds ovoid, with five to nine pairs of imbricate scales. Leaves broadly pentagonal to orbicular in outline, base cordate to rounded, three- to five-lobed, 3.8–9 cm long, lobes apically acute or obtuse, margins entire to undulate, often with a single lobe on either side in apical third, upper surface dark green, pubescent at first, lower surface pale green, glabrous or pubescent; petiole 1.5–4 cm long, glabrous, or becoming so, often grooved, broadest at base; autumn colours yellow to scarlet. Inflorescence terminal or axillary, corymbose, erect, 10–30 flowered. Flowers yellowish green, 5-merous, usually dioecious, pedicels long and slender, pubescent, sepals connate, ciliate, petals absent, stamens seven to eight, inserted in the middle of the nectar disc. Samaras 1.6 to 3 cm long, wings spreading acutely. Nutlets rounded. Flowering April to May, with unfolding leaves, fruiting in October (Sargent 1965; Elias 1980).

Distribution  United States Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia

Habitat Moist rich soils, along river or stream banks and in wet woodlands. Compared with A. saccharum it is more likely to be an understory species.

USDA Hardiness Zone 5

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Taxonomic note Prior to the 1940s Florida Maple was referred to as Acer floridanum, but in recent decades, where treated at specific rank, the given name has often been A. barbatum Michx. (e.g. Duncan & Duncan 1988; Elias 1980; Lance 2004). This situation occurred as a result of a re-examination of material by M.L. Fernald in preparation for his (then) forthcoming Gray’s Manual (1950), as elucidated by Ward (2004). Ward (2004) details that Michaux’s ‘A. barbatum material belongs to a number of species, and the material that was lectotypified by Edward Murray to A. saccharum in particular. A. barbatum Michx. therefore belongs in the synonymy of that species, and A. floridanum is the correct name for Florida Maple.

By no means the rarest nor the most common of the sugar maples, the abundance of Acer floridanum as a wild plant is broadly reflected by its frequency in cultivation. Slow growing, it typically does not develop a good shape without significant formative pruning, though a tolerance of heat, drought (once established), full sun as well as heavy shade give it potential for use as a street tree, should appropriate cultivars be developed (Dirr & Warren 2019). In 1965 Sargent noted that it is sometimes grown as a shade tree, and records it as ‘the prevailing tree in the streets and squares of Raleigh, North Carolina’ (Sargent 1965, p.692). It is also widely planted on streets elsewhere in the southern states (Weakley & Southeastern Flora Team 2022).

As with the other sugar maples, the horticultural track record of Acer floridanum is largely North American, given its limited use outside its native range. The largest recorded examples are two gigantic specimens over 38 m tall (more than twice the usual ‘maximum’ height), one growing in Southampton County, Virginia ( 2018, though its entry is without images, and the method of measurement unknown) and the other reported from Stevens Creek Natural Area, South Carolina in 1981 (Jacobson 1996). The UK champion grows at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire, and measured a more modest 11.7 m tall in 2017 from a 1983 planting (acc. 19834214*A) (The Tree Register 2022). A specimen in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, measured 16.8 m tall in 2018 ( 2018). Having not been considered fully hardy and a very slow grower at Rogów, Poland, warming temperatures have seen an increased growth rate for the species here, with an individual standing at 11.5 m tall as of January 2023 (P. Banazczak pers. comm. 2023).

With smaller, less sharply toothed leaves than Acer saccharum, A. floridanum is morphologically closest to A. leucoderme, which as well as a tendency towards being multistemmed, differs in its yellow-green, rather than glaucous lower leaf surfaces, and with lobes being narrowed at the base, which in A. leucoderme are not.