by Liliana Usvat
There are approximately 128 species, most of which are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Only one species, the poorly studied Acer laurinum, is native to the Southern Hemisphere.
Fifty-four species of maples meet the International Union for Conservation of Naturethreat of extinction in their native habitat.
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 many countries including Canada.
Many maples have bright autumn foliage, and many countries have leaf-watching traditions. In Japan, the custom of viewing the changing colour of maples in the autumn is called “momijigari”. Nikko and Kyoto are particularly favoured destinations for this activity. In addition, in Korea, the same viewing activity is called “Danpung-Nori” and the Seoraksan and Naejang-san mountains are very famous places for it.
The Acer saccharum (sugar maple) are a contributor to seasonal Fall tourism in North America, particularly in Central Ontario, Québec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.
Maple syrup was first collected and used by the indigenous peoples of North America. The practice was adopted by European settlers, who gradually refined production methods.
Three species of maple trees are predominantly used to produce maple syrup: the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the black maple (A. nigrum), and the red maple (A. rubrum), because of the high sugar content (roughly two to five percent) in the sap of these species.
The black maple is included as a subspecies or variety in a more broadly viewed concept of A. saccharum, the sugar maple, by some botanists.Of these, the red maple has a shorter season because it buds earlier than sugar and black maples, which alters the flavour of the sap.
The Sugar maple (A. saccharum) is tapped for sap, which is then boiled to produce maple syrup or made into maple sugar or maple taffy. It takes about 40 litres (42 US qt) of sugar maple sap to make 1 litre (1.1 US qt) of syrup. While any Acer species may be tapped for syrup, many do not have sufficient quantities of sugar to be commercially useful.
Now, scientists are finding that this popular sweet treat is abundant with healthy nutrients that can bring benefits to those suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome, among other health problems. Considering maple sap also contains antioxidants, this could also mean it has the ability to help in the fight against aging, and even cancer.
Traditionally, the sap has been used in Native medicine as part of a tonic for the liver and kidneys. In other medical uses, according to research done in Quebec, maple sap contains polyphenols as well as a phytohormone known as abscisic acid, useful in helping the pancreas in its insulin production.
The bark has astringent properties and has been used medicinally as an application for sore eyes, a use which the early settlers learnt from the Red Indians.
Maple Forests is primarily composed of American Beech and Sugar Maple trees which co-dominate the forest and which are the pinnacle of plant succession in their range. A form of this forest was the most common forest type in the Northeastern United States when it was settled by Europeans and remains widespread but scattered today.
Maple forest type extends from the Atlantic coast west to Minnesota, Michigan and from southern Canada south to Virginia and Tennessee. It is widespread in New York and was an important component of the original vegetation of northeastern Ohio.
Instances of a beech-maple forest can be found at altitudes of 320 feet (98 m) to 3,900 feet (1,200 m).
Maple Forest in Thuder Bay Ontario Canada
Thunder Bay Maple Forest is under threat of destruction.
The forest is a beautiful place, with thousands of Maple Trees, many are well over 100 years old.
The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment is the proposed site for a wind farm.
Some of those beautiful trees have already been cut down. Opponents of the project are suggesting that the ‘trimming efforts’ are exceeding the parameters of the agreements between the City of Thunder Bay and the wind farm company.
The lost of an old growth Maple Forest would be a tragedy in Tunder Bay. When you tour the project, and realize how much of the forest will simply disappear, it make sense to oppose the destruction of the forest.
Some feel that opposing wind farms is to oppose ‘Green Energy’. I believe the forest should not be cut for the wind farm to be installed.
- Sweet Finds: Tonewood Maple Syrup (and Tree Adoption!) (sweets.seriouseats.com)
- Plant Database (sogreengardens.com)
- New Sugared Maple Organic Skincare! (hothousebotanicals.com)
- Applesauce with Dried Cranberries and Maple Syrup (rochester.ynn.com)
- THE NATURALIST’S NOTEBOOK: A glacier’s gift (tech.mit.edu)
- Not the Maple Syrup! Loss of Vermont Maple Trees to Climate Change (theecotoneexchange.com)
- More than Maple: A Practical Guide to Producing and Marketing Syrup (chelseagreen.com)