Botanical Name: Acer campestre
Section: Acer sect. Platanoidea
Species: A. campestre
Common Names: Field maple,Hedge maple
Habitat: Acer campestre is native to much of continental Europe, Britain, southwest Asia from Turkey to the Caucasus, and north Africa in the Atlas Mountains. It has been widely planted, and is introduced outside its native range in Europe and areas of USA and Western Australia with suitab.
Acer campestre is a deciduous tree reaching 15–25 m (49–82 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in diameter, with finely fissured, often somewhat corky bark. The shoots are brown, with dark brown winter buds. The leaves are in opposite pairs, 5–16 cm (2.0–6.3 in) long (including the 3–9 cm (1.2–3.5 in) petiole) and 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) broad, with five blunt, rounded lobes with a smooth margin. Usually monoecious, the flowers are produced in spring at the same time as the leaves open, yellow-green, in erect clusters 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in) across, and are insect-pollinated. The fruit is a samara with two winged achenes aligned at 180°, each achene is 8–10 mm (0.31–0.39 in) wide, flat, with a 2 cm (0.79 in) wing.
The two varieties, not accepted as distinct by all authorities, are:
Acer campestre var. campestre – downy fruit
Acer campestre var. leiocarpum (Opiz) Wallr. (syn. A. campestre subsp. leiocarpum) – hairless fruit
The closely related Acer miyabei replaces it in eastern Asia.
The field maple is widely grown as an ornamental tree in parks and large gardens. The wood is white, hard and strong, and used for furniture, flooring, wood turning and musical instruments, though the small size of the tree and its relatively slow growth make it an unimportant wood. It has an OPALS rating of 7.
It is locally naturalised in parts of the United States and more rarely in New Zealand. The hybrid maple Acer × zoeschense has A. campestre as one of its parents.
The tree has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.
The bark is astringent and slightly anticholesterolemic. A decoction has been used to bathe sore eyes. The bark should be sun-dried and then stored in a dry place until required.
The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. A fast growing plant and bearing clipping well, it makes an excellent clipped hedge and can also be used as part of a native wildlife hedge where it is only trimmed every 3 – 4 years. It has also been used in topiary. Wood – fine-grained, tough, elastic, hard to split, takes a high polish and is seldom attacked by insects. Trees are seldom large enough to supply much usable timber, but when available it is much valued by cabinet makers. It is also used for cups bowls etc. The wood of the roots is often knotted and is valued for small objects of cabinet work. The wood is an excellent fuel. A charcoal made from the wood is a good fuel.
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