Tuesday, July 20, 2010

American Hardwoods: Hard Maple

Most bowling alleys, bowling pins, and basketball courts are made from Hard Maple because the wood is extremely dense and hard. Hard Maple wood usually refers to the Sugar Maple tree. The familiar red Sugar Maple leaf is featured on the flag of Canada making the leaf shape easy to recognize.

by Native Vermont

Maples are a very important species to the ecology of many forests. Sugar Maples perform what's called hydrolic lift: they draw moisture from deep soil deposits, resulting in water sources in the top soil that benefit nearby trees of all species. Maples are comfortable in a almost any soil condition, and they can flourish under canopy of larger trees. When a gap in the canopy increases the light, a Maple with respond with rapid growth.

The decline of the Sugar Maple can be attributed to pollution. Acid rain and soil acidification are some of the primary contributing factors to maple decline. Also, the increased use of salt over the last several decades on streets and roads for de-icing purposes has decimated the Sugar Maple's role as a "street-front" tree. The Maples role as a species of mature forests has led it to be replaced by more opportunistic species in areas where forests are cut over.

Twirly twigs? no, those are Maple seeds! The fruit is a double samara with two winged seeds, the seeds are globose with wings. The seeds fall from the tree in autumn.

Several interesting legends evolve around the branches of Maple trees:

In order to avoid the eggs of the stork being disturbed by a bat or even being killed whilst still in their shells, according to Alsatian folklore, placing branches of the Maple would ensure protection against the bat. In fact planting a branch of the Maple tree in a house was said to ensure that bats will not dare to enter.

by Brazen Designs

Passing a young child through the branches of this tree has traditionally thought to encourage good health and a long life for the child.

Read more about folklore surrounding Maple syrup at McLure's of New England


by (yours truly) wildwood

Be sure to catch our next article in the American Hardwoods Series on Edge of the Wildwood. We'll be focusing on the distinctive features of Red Oak.

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