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10 Neat Things about Maples
by Dorothy Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie



The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at www.localgardener.net and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

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July 4, 2021

1. Promise and practicality, but sharp, too.

The maple is the symbol of generosity, balance, promise, and practicality, however, its botanical name, Acer, is the Latin world for sharp. Sounds like Canada.

2. Our home and native tree.

There are ten different species that are native to Canada, although some of them are really just shrubs and one is a vine. Our national emblem in Canada was inspired by the sugar maple, native to eastern Canada. In an attempt to make it acceptable for all of Canada, its shape has been stylized, reducing the sugar maple leaf’s 23 points to just 11, supposedly representing the 10 provinces and (then) one territory.

3. National tree, national song, national tartan.

Even though its leaf has been on our flag since 1965, the tree itself was not adopted as a national symbol until 1996. There is even a maple leaf tartan which was adopted as Canada’s national tartan in 2011. Created by David Weiser, the tartan was inspired by the colours of the leaves over the seasons. For many years, the song, the Maple Leaf Forever, written by Alexander Muir in the later 1880s, was sung as the unofficial anthem.

4. Name those trees.

The ten natives are: sugar (Ontario to Maritimes), red (Eastern North America), silver (Great lakes and St. Lawrence), black (Ottawa and Montreal Island), big leaf (B.C. Coast), Douglas (B.C. Coast to Alberta Highlands, shrubby), Manitoba (Manitoba to Ontario), mountain (Saskatchewan eastward, shrubby), striped (North Eastern America, shrubby), and vine (B.C.).

5. So long samara.

Samara is a girl’s name meaning, in both Hindu and Hebrew, “protected by God.” It is also the name given to winged seeds, such as the seeds of the maple tree. These seeds were the inspiration for helicopters and at least one drone design for their ability to stay aloft and be carried by wind.

6. How sweet it is.

It takes 40 litres of its sap to make one litre of syrup. Maple syrup is about twice as sweet as regular sugar.

7. Musical maple.

Maple is a tonewood, meaning that it carries soundwaves very effectively. It is the favoured wood for many musical instruments, including violins and guitars, drums, even bassoons, although it is used sparingly in some instruments due to its weight.

8. Long live the maple.

Red, sugar and black maple trees generally live 200 years or more, even while being tapped for their syrup. It is said that the oldest variety tree in Canada is the Comfort Maple, which can be found in North Pelham, Ontario and is estimated to be over 500 years old.

9. The oldest fossil.

Dated back to 100 million years, the oldest maple fossil was found in Alaska.

10. Odds and ends.

Maple pulp makes quality paper. There is a paperbark maple in China. The hornbeam variety has ribbed leaves. The hedge maple has dark green, almost oak-like leaves. Acers belong in the Sapindaceae or soapberry family, so named for the sap bearing qualities of its members.

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