Thursday, November 8, 2012

A stranger among your maples

The forests of Pound Ridge, NY are filled with maples and they live in just about every part of the landscape: on wet sites and dry sites, south facing slopes and north-facing slopes, in the shade and in the sun.  We have six maple trees in total:  
Red maple (Acer rubrum).  A very common maple found in wetlands.

Black maple (Acer nigrum).  While it is said to grow in this area, I have not seen it in the wild.

Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum). This small tree is found in only the coldest places of the area (i.e., exposed, north facing sites at high elevation) 

Silver maple  (Acer saccharinum).  This tree lives on floodplains.

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum). The most common maple around Pound Ridge, NY and the one from which we make maple syrup. 

 Norway Maple: INVASIVE MAPLE. 
This maple tree is not from North America.  Since being brought here it has negatively changed the forest.  

The norway maple is said to be invasive because it spreads quickly through our forest, outcompeting native trees and shading out forest wildflowers.  The tree is also undesirable from a forester's perspective – when compared to the native (and more desirable) sugar maple, the wood of the Norway maple makes poor lumber and burns cooler.

Now, during the second week of November the Norway maple is very easy to spot in the forest.  Now, its yellow and orange leaves stand out against a grey (or after yesterday's snowfall, white!) leafless forest.  In the grand show of fall foliage, the Norway maple is late to the party.  All of the other maples already shed their leaves but the Norway is only just now entering its dormancy.  Below are pictures I took to help train your eyes to this plant.

A Norway maple up close.  Notice that it is the only tree still holding colorful leaves

Large Norway maple trees along side a road.  One in the foreground and one in the background.  

The entire yellow band in the center of the photo is comprised of Norway maple trees.  

Try to spot these yellow trees as you go through your day – you'll be amazed just how many are invading the forest.  I spent a few hours this week girdling Norway maple trees at the Armstrong Education Center in Pound Ridge, NY.  

No comments: