Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
Growing up in New England, my choice has to be the sugar maple — a tree so common we often take for granted its extraordinary beauty. In winter, it is most glorious; in the snow, it is astonishing. A certain whimsy shapes its branches, especially the baroque swoop of its lowest limbs. These trees have long memories. In the woods, they testify to earlier times when they grew undisturbed in the margins between farmers’ fields. Hardwood, maple syrup and autumn foliage are just bonuses.