Sugar Maple: A “Leaf Peeping” Walk

When asked recently what my favorite kind of tree is, I said that it depends on the season. Different trees attract me at different times of the year. Twice a year – in March and in late October – the Sugar Maple is at or near the top of my list of favorites in Eliza Howell Park.

In March, it is “sugaring” time (see “Maple Sap Rising,” March 13, 2018); now the leaves demand attention.

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A number of Sugar Maples are found near the park road. The leaves are thick and the branches hang low. (It is a good tree to duck under to wait out a brief rain.) When the leaves turn in the fall, they can be yellow or pink or red, often on the same tree.

Note the variety of colors of the leaves on the ground here, all from the same tree.

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Each fall I check the next two Sugar Maples, growing side by side, to see how both the colors and the time of leaf drop differ.

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These close-up pictures of Sugar Maple leaves, still on the trees, are put together for easy comparison.

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Sugar Maples, native to Northeast North America, are one of the featured trees on many fall foliage viewing (“leaf peeping”) tours in New England and the upper Midwest.

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Healthy Sugar Maples can grow to over 100 feet tall and live up to 300 – 400 years.

Using a method of estimating the age of a tree based on its circumference (a method to be described more fully in the next post), I estimated that the Sugar Maple pictured below is about 180 years old. This means that it began to grow here about the time Michigan became a state.

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The Eliza Howell Sugar Maples mean tasty maple syrup to a number of park neighbors, but that is only one way in which they contribute to the natural beauty and fascinating features of the park.