Gardening Tips and Tricks : Field Maple Tree History and Facts
Field maple, also known as (Acer campestre), is a deciduous and is tree native to Britain and surrounds wide areas of Europe.
It is a broadleaf tree and is the only maple native to the UK. It can be found growing in hedgerows, woods and scrubs as well as chalky downland.
The tree is commonly planted in parks and gardens for its beautiful autumn colours and because it grows compactly and has a high tolerance to pollution.
Identifying a Maple?
A fully matured tree will grow to about 20m tall and can live for up to 350 years. The bark is scaly and light brown with slim brown twigs and develops cracks in the bark with age. The leaf buds are grey in colour, small and form on long stalks. The small leaves have five segments with smooth teeth, which appear dark green in colour and have a shine to them.
Maple trees appear have a hermaphrodite reproductive system, which means that both the male and the female flowers contain reproductive parts within the same flower. The flowers can contain a number of both male and female organs; they are small, u-shaped, and green to yellow in colour and hang in clusters. Insects pollinate the flowers and they turn into big fruits with wings, these are disappeared by wind.
Interesting fact: the sap from maple trees can be used to make maple syrup.
Significance to Wildlife
The tree attracts aphids and a variety of its predators; some of these include birds, ladybirds and hoverflies. Caterpillars from a few species of moth eat the foliage form the tree, including the small yellow wave, the sycamore moth and the maple pug. Birds and small mammals eat the fruits from the tree, while bees and other small insects use the flowers for collecting pollen and nectar.
Myths and Legends
While you don’t find many myths and legends associated with the field maple, there is an old saying in parts of Europe that the branches hanging over a door entrance would prevent bats from entering their homes.
How we use field maple
The timber from a field maple is one of the hardest known to man, it has a high density and is the toughest of all European maple woods. It has a silky and shiny surface and is brown to cream in colour. We have used it to make musical instruments such as harps but it was also used for turnery and carvings. Today’s uses include the making of veneers, particularly because it polishes up extremely well.
Nearly all trees can be affected by a number of tree pests and diseases. These threats can often cause dieback in leaves which is never good for it. They can be affected by sycamore gall mites and there is also the risk of wilt because of fungus growing at the base of the trunk.