The most beautiful
It seems as if the maple tribe is nothing special among the forest counterparts, but among the people this tree has long been in love. It seems that this is a tribute to a simple, but its captivating beauty.
I remember that I walked more than once on an old maple alley. Maples were like maples. But once in the early spring as if for the first time I saw them. Snow still lay around, the wind walked freely in the bare branches of other trees, and the first flowers were visible in the leisurely swaying, curly crowns of spreading maples. The small yellowish-golden bouquets that covered the whole tree were shrouded in a transparent golden haze. It is difficult to convey the charm of early spring flowering maple.
Every spring I visit old maples. In the summer I enjoy their cool shadow, and with the onset of autumn, I marvel at the beauty of the autumn dress, which is distinguished by a wealth of shades - from green to gold, orange and red. With the first autumn frosts, the maple drops its multicolor outfit and goes into sleep until spring comes.
The maple growing in our forests is called botanists, unlike many "ordinary" breeds and their cousins, holly. There are about 150 species in the genus, but the acutifolia maple differs from them in the form of leaves, flowers, and fruits. The area of its distribution, or, as botanists say, the area is much larger than other types of maple. And maple is distributed almost throughout Europe: from the Pyrenees to the Urals and from Karelia to the Black Sea, with the exception of the steppe regions.
The acutifoliate maple almost does not form pure plantations, but grows mainly in a mixture with other species in spruce forests, oak forests, less often in birch forests and pine forests. It has long been considered a good honey plant. From a hectare of forest with a predominance of maple, bees collect 150-200 kilograms of honey, and from one mature tree up to 10 kilograms.
Fading, the maple is covered with many dipterous seeds, ripening only by autumn. Falling winged seeds rotate like propellers, sometimes landing at a great distance from the mother tree. They lie all winter, and in the spring with the first warmth friendly shoots appear. A small amount of maple seeds germinates in the fall, and seedlings winter in the snow, but most of them die due to lack of heat and light.
Large, with five sharp lobes, maple leaves are very beautiful and useful: they can be used as a good feed or bedding for livestock, as raw materials for obtaining black and yellow colors. Well, maple juice does not need advertising. This is a long-known popular soft drink, like birch juice. Maple wood is appreciated by builders, craftsmen who create musical instruments, especially bow instruments, and sports equipment.
Maple is considered the best shady tree for parks, planting on the streets and squares. Its decorative varieties are often found here with a thick spherical, pyramidal or other crown, with blood-red leaves of various shapes and flowers of the same color.
In addition to holly, about 25 species of maple grow in our country. These are field and Tatar maples in the European part of Russia, sycamore in the Carpathians or the Caucasus, Semenov maple in Central Asia, riverine and small-leaved in the Far East, and others. Among foreign species, maples from North America stand out, primarily sugar and American.
© Bruce Marlin
Sugar maple is recognized as a national tree of Canada; its leaf is displayed on the coat of arms and on the national flag of the country. Canadians carefully protect sugar maple in natural forests and widely cultivate it on new lands. This tree is especially expensive for lovers of sweets. It has long been considered the best source of industrial sugar production in the New World. Sugar is produced by boiling maple juice, and the juice is collected in metal buckets or tanks suspended from tree trunks.
Sugar maple is a slender 25-meter tree with a trunk up to one and a half meters in diameter. Abundant juice production is observed in February – March. One tree gives so much juice at this time that from it you can get 2–4 kilograms of sugar. About 4000 tons of excellent sugar are mined annually in Canada and the USA in this way.
The second type of maple from America, which is called American, and sometimes ash-leaved, is very interesting, as its leaves are similar in shape to ash leaves. Maple ash is unpretentious and has the ability to quickly conquer new lands. He appeared with us less than 200 years ago, and now you will certainly meet him everywhere from the extreme south to Arkhangelsk. During the first 10-15 years of its life, its trees often reach 20-25 meters in height with a trunk thickness of 1 meter. However, it usually grows in the form of smaller trees and is characterized by rapid growth only in youth. American maple seeds are surprisingly viable, they sprout quickly and amicably and heavily clog the arable land. Easily flying over significant distances from the mother tree, they quickly settle in new places. It is interesting that this so widespread and viable plant is completely unsuitable for forestry. Its wood is of little value, the tree itself is usually clumsy, short-lived and does not form a real forest. Landscapers do not favor him either. Both in our country and in the USA and Canada we give preference to our handsome holly maple, by the way, known there under the name Russian maple. And they’re doing it right: after all, our cunning maple, besides its other advantages, is also durable, lives up to 200-300 years. Only in his youth he should be given a little more attention, and only then he will reward handsomely for this.
Links to materials:
- S. I. Ivchenko - Book about trees