Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum – Lam.)

Botanical Name: Acer spicatum – Lam.
Family : Aceraceae/Sapindaceae
COMMON NAMES : mountain maple, low maple, moose maple, water maple, moosewood, plaine batarde, erable ,fouereux
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Acer
Species: A. spicatum

Habitat:
North-eastern N. America – Saskatchewan to Labrador, south to Wisconsin and Georgia.The tree lives in moist woods in rich, well-drained soils on rocky hillsides and along streams. It also grows on ravines, cliff faces, and forested bogs. During ecological succession, it colonizes the understory as pioneer species die.  Deep rich moist soils in cool habitats such as the edges of mountain streams, ravines or woodlands.Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary;

Description:
It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 3-8 m tall, forming a spreading crown with a short trunk and slender branches. The leaves are opposite and simple, 6-10 cm long and wide, with 3 or 5 shallow broad lobes. They are coarsely and irregularly toothed with a light green hairless surface and a finely hairy underside. The leaves turn brilliant yellow to red in autumn, and are on slender stalks usually longer than the blade. The bark is thin, dull gray-brown, and smooth at first but becoming slightly scaly. The fruit is a paired reddish samara, 2-3 cm long, maturing in late summer to early autumn.
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It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Cultivation :
Of easy cultivation, it prefers a sunny position and a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils, especially those on the acid side, and dislikes alkaline soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -35°c when fully dormant. The lower branches of trees often self-layer, the trees then forming an impenetrable thicket. Most maples are bad companion plants, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow to germinate. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Plants often self-layer in the wild. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. Strong plants are usually produced by this method.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Sap.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.
A sugar is obtained from the sap. The sap can be used as a drink or boiled down to make maple syrup. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The sap can be harvested in late winter, the flow is best on a warm sunny day after a frost. Trees on southern slopes in sandy soils give the best yields. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

Medicinal Action & Uses :
Astringent; Ophthalmic; Poultice.
The North American Indians made an infusion of the pith of young twigs and used this as eye drops to soothe irritation caused by campfire smoke. The pith itself was used to remove foreign matter from the eyes. An infusion or poultice made from the outer bark has been used to treat sore eyes. A poultice made from boiled root chips has been applied externally to wounds and abscesses. A compound infusion of the roots and bark is used to treat internal haemorrhage.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein ,  is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses
Preservative; Soil stabilization; Tannin.
The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. The bark contains tannins, but the report does not say in what quantity. The trees have an extensive root system that can be used to bind the soil. They are often grown on banks in order to prevent soil erosion. The wood is close-grained, soft and light, weighing 33lb per cubic foot.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Acer+spicatum
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACSP2&photoID=acsp2_002_ahp.tif
http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/acespi/all.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_spicatum

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