The Maple Tree
Interesting Facts About the Maple Tree
The maple tree is a plant that belongs to the family Sapindaceae.
There are approximately 128 species of maple.
Most species are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Only one species extends to the Southern Hemisphere.
These trees germinate best in cold weather that’s at least 1°C (34°F).
Maple trees grow in sandy or clayey soil types. As long as the texture stays loose and the soil depth allows the roots to anchor the tree to the site, the maple tree grows well. Unfavorable sites include swamps, dry sandy ridges and thin rocky soil.
Most species are deciduous, and many are renowned for their autumn leaf color, but a few in southern Asia and the Mediterranean region are evergreen.
The lifespan of a maple tree is between 100 and 400 years, depending on the species.
The Comfort Maple is an enormous and strangely shaped sugar maple tree which is believed to be at least 500 years old, the oldest maple tree in Canada.
Many of the root systems are typically dense and fibrous, inhibiting the growth of other vegetation underneath them.
Most maples are trees growing to 33–148 feet height. Others are shrubs less than 10 meters tall with a number of small trunks originating at ground level.
Maple tree usually has brown or gray bark that is smooth in young plants and rough in older plants.
Maples are distinguished by opposite leaf arrangement. Leaves are divided in 3 to 9 lobes (rarely to 13). The edges of the leaves are slightly serrated with varying sizes in teeth. Leaves change color from green to different shades of yellow, orange and red during the autumn.
Flowers of maple tree can be green, yellow, orange or red in color. It contains both male and female parts instead of separate female and male parts of individual trees. The flowers are quite small but when found in huge numbers in a tree can give amazingly colorful results. Some maples are an early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees.
The distinctive fruit are called samaras, “maple keys“, “helicopters“, “whirlybirds”, or “polynoses“. These seeds occur in distinctive pairs each containing one seed enclosed in a “nutlet” attached to a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue. They are shaped to spin as they fall and to carry the seeds a considerable distance on the wind.
Many maples have bright autumn foliage, and many countries have leaf-watching traditions. In Japan, the custom of viewing the changing color of maples in the autumn is called “momijigari”. The sugar maple is a contributor to seasonal fall tourism in North America.
Maples are a popular choice for the art of bonsai. Japanese maple, Trident maple, Amur maple, Field maple and Montpellier maple are popular choices and respond well to techniques that encourage leaf reduction and ramification, but most species can be used.
Sugar, Black, and Red maple trees are tapped for sap, which is then boiled to produce maple syrup or made into maple sugar or maple taffy. It takes about 42 qt. of sugar maple sap to make 1.1 qt of syrup. While any maple species may be tapped for syrup, many do not have sufficient quantities of sugar to be commercially useful. Maple syrup was first recorded as being produced in 1540 by Native Americans using the sugar maple’s sap.
A maple leaf is on the coat of arms of Canada and is on the Canadian flag. The maple is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of Canada. Maple leaves are traditionally an important part of Canadian Forces military regalia, for example the military rank insignia for generals use maple leaf symbols.
Maple is considered a tonewood, or a wood that carries sound waves well, and is used in numerous musical instruments. The back, sides, and neck of most violins, violas, cellos, and double basses are made from maple. Electric guitar necks are commonly made from maple, having good dimensional stability. Many drums are made from maple.
Different types of furniture, baseball bats, bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, pool cue shafts and butcher’s blocks are often made of maple trees.
Maple tree is also used in the paper industry. Paper made of maple tree has excellent printing properties.
Dried wood is often used for the smoking of food.
The oldest fossil of a maple dates to 100 million years ago in Alaska.
Uses of the maple tree: