Botanical Name: Acer saccharum nigrum
Species: A. nigrum
Synonyms: A. nigrum. Michx.f.
Common Name: Black Maple
Habitat : Acer saccharum nigrum is native to Eastern N. America – Quebec to Alabama, west to South Dakota and Arkansas. It grows on rich calcareous or alluvial woods. Found in a variety of soil types, near streams, rivers and in rich woodlands, usually below 750 metres but up to 1650 metres in the south of its range.
Acer saccharum nigrum is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft 0in) at a slow rate. Leaves are simple, opposite, often 4 inches or more long and fully as wide, from 3 to 5 shallow lobes with wide-spaced coarse teeth, dark green in color above, paler below; the clefts are rounded at the base. Leaf edge is smooth between the points. The leaf stalk (petiole) is typically greater in length than the leaf blade.
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Twigs are slender, shining, and warmly brown, the color of maple sugar. The current year’s twig is identical to sugar maple, but the older sections of twigs often have a waxy coating that may peel in strips from the twig.
Winter buds are conical, sharp-pointed, and brown in color, the terminal buds much larger than the lateral buds.
Barks of young trees, dark gray in color, close, smooth, and firm, becoming furrowed into long irregular plates lifting along one edge.
It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)
Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.
Fruit – maple keys (samaras), in short clusters, ripening in September. Samaras are paired with the seeds joining each other in a straight line, but the wings are separated by about 60 degrees.
Outstanding features – rounded cleft between lobes of leaves; leaf blade broad and lateral lobes often droop; sharp-pointed, brown buds; brown twig with waxy coating on older sections of the twig.
Landscape Uses:Specimen, Street tree. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils. Chlorosis can often develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Trees need full light and a lot of space. Plants are hardy to about -45°c when fully dormant. This species is not a great success in Britain, though it does better than once thought. It grows well in Cornwall. Slow growing when young. Plants produce prodigious root growth but very little top growth in first year from seed. Trees grow rapidly for their first 25 years in the wild, but then slow down and only occasionally surviving for more than 200 years. A very ornamental tree but a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. This species is commercially exploited in America for its sap. Along with A. saccharum and the sub-species A. s. grandidentatum it is the major source of maple syrup. There are some named varieties. The sap can be tapped within 10 – 15 years from seed but it does not flow so well in areas with mild winters. Special Features:North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. A lot of the seed is non-viable, it is best to cut a few open to see if there is an embryo. An average of 95% germination can be achieved from viable seed. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking two years. 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. 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.
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Sap; Seed.
The sap contains reasonable quantities of sugar and can be used as a drink or concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The sap can be harvested in late winter or early spring, the flow is best on a warm sunny day after a frost. Trees on southern slopes in sandy soils give the best yields. It is best to make a hole about 7cm deep and about 1.3 metres above the ground. Yields of 40 – 100 litres per tree can be obtained. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. Seed – boiled then roasted. The seed is about 6mm long and is produced in small clusters. Inner bark – cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread.
Medicinal Uses : A decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea.
Fuel; Preservative; Wood.
The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them[18, 20]. Wood – close grained, tough, hard, heavy. Used for furniture, ship building, etc. It is a good fuel.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.