Sunday, November 1, 2009

Maple Family

A quick survey of the Internet shows that there are hundreds of various trees in the Maple family, with a strong showing of that variation found in Arkansas. (The most common trait of those trees we call Maples is the winged whirly-bird seed.) In trying to capture some of those variants, I am struck with the problem which faces any who would classify. When--given genetic drift or regional variation--is something rightly regarded as its own species, a subspecies, or a "strain." The task is even more daunting given many maples are selectively bred for ornamental purposes.

For my limited purposes, I have presented five major groups of maples common to Arkansas. These include both "types" and species (I did not include Japanese Maple, as these do not appear part of the natural landscape.) I may yet find out if my observations are even close to those who do this professionally. Here are the categories I am working with at present.

1) Sugar Maple (or Maple Maple, the kind of leaf we see on the Canadian flag.)

2) Red Maple: Contrary to the name, Red Maple leafs are usually green (but may in Autumn, assume any of or range of colors, from limon to melon to cherry to brick.) I think they look like hanging bats.

3) Mountain Maple (Rocky Mountain Maple) Leaf tends to look like a grape leaf with diminished side lobes and some jagging.

4) Beechy Maple (Diminished lobes)

6 ) Silver Tip Maple: Deeply lobed, jagged, and scrappy. (our most prevalent)

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