fbpx CRESCENDO™ sugar maple | The Morton Arboretum

CRESCENDO™ sugar maple

Orange-red fall color on Crescendo sugar maple.

The CRESCENDO™ sugar maple was introduced by The Morton Arboretum through Chicagoland® Grows. Its dark green leaves turn an orange-red in the fall. Once established, this tree is tolerant of heat and drought. 

This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits.

Botanical name:

Acer saccharum 'Morton'

All common names:

CRESCENDO™ sugar maple

Family (English):

Soapberry (formerly Maple)

Family (Botanic):

Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

40-45 feet

Mature Width:

30-35 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Commonly planted,
  • Intolerant of pollution

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color

Seasons of Interest:

  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Game birds,
  • Insect pollinators,
  • Small mammals,
  • Songbirds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Best grown in evenly moist soil.  Full sun.  Soil should be acidic to slightly alkaline.  Tolerant of heat and drought.
Maples are considered 'bleeders' and are best pruned in early winter or during summer.

Disease, pests, and problems

Verticillium wilt (fungus) is a potential problem for maples; no other serious problems for this cultivar.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

This is a cultivated variety of a native species.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is dark gray on older trees; ridged and furrowed or sometimes platy.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves in pairs (opposite); 3 to 6 inches long with 3 to 5 lobes.  Dark green leaves in summer change to orange-red in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Flowers are small and inconspicuous.  Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), about 1 inch long.



Location of Acer saccharum 'Morton' (CRESCENDO™ sugar maple) at the Arboretum