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Herbs & Plants

Acer saccharum

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Botanical Name : Acer saccharum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. saccharum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms:
*Acer barbatum auct. non Michx.
*Acer barbatum f. commune Ashe
*Acer floridanum (Chapm.) Pax
*Acer hispidum Schwer.
*Acer leucoderme Small
*Acer nigrum F. Michx.
*Acer nigrum var. glaucum

Common Names: Sugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple

Habitat : Acer saccharum is native to the hardwood forests of eastern Canada, from Nova Scotia west through Quebec and southern Ontario to southeastern Manitoba around Lake of the Woods, and the northern parts of the Central and eastern United States, from Minnesota eastward to the highlands of the eastern states. It is found in a variety of soil types, doing best in deep rich well-drained soils from sea level to 1600 metres. Rich usually hilly woods.

Description:
Acer saccharum is a deciduous tree normally reaching heights of 25–35 m (80–115 ft) tall, and exceptionally up to 45 m (148 ft). A 10-year-old tree is typically about 5 m (16 ft) tall. When healthy, the sugar maple can live for over 400 years.

The leaves are deciduous, up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long and equally wide, with five palmate lobes. The basal lobes are relatively small, while the upper lobes are larger and deeply notched. In contrast with the angular notching of the silver maple, however, the notches tend to be rounded at their interior. The fall color is often spectacular, ranging from bright yellow through orange to fluorescent red-orange, although they look best in the northern part of its range. Sugar maples also have a tendency to color unevenly in fall. In some trees, all colors above can be seen at the same time. They also share a tendency with red maples for certain parts of a mature tree to change color weeks ahead of or behind the remainder of the tree. The leaf buds are pointy and brown-colored. The recent year’s growth twigs are green, and turn dark brown.

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The flowers are in panicles of five to 10 together, yellow-green and without petals; flowering occurs in early spring after 30–55 growing degree days. The sugar maple will generally begin flowering when it is between 10 and 15 years old. The fruit is a pair of samaras (winged seeds). The seeds are globose, 7–10 mm (9?32–13?32 in) in diameter, the wing 2–3 cm (3?4–1 1?4 in) long. The seeds fall from the tree in autumn, where they must be exposed to 90 days of temperatures below ?18 °C (0 °F) to break their coating down. Germination of A. saccharum is slow, not taking place until the following spring when the soil has warmed and all frost danger is past.

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.

The sugar maple is also often confused with the Norway maple, though they are not closely related within the genus. The sugar maple is most easily identified by clear sap in the leaf petiole (the Norway maple has white sap), brown, sharp-tipped buds (the Norway maple has blunt, green or reddish-purple buds), and shaggy bark on older trees (the Norway maple bark has small grooves). Also, the leaf lobes of the sugar maple have a more triangular shape, in contrast to the squarish lobes of the Norway maple.

Although many people think a red sugar maple leaf is featured on the flag of Canada, the official maple leaf does not belong to any particular maple species; although it perhaps most closely resembles a sugar maple leaf of all the maple species in Canada, the leaf on the flag was specially designed to be as identifiable as possible on a flag waving in the wind without regard to whether it resembled a particular species’ foliage.

The sugar maple is the state tree of the US states of New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Screen, Specimen, Street tree, Woodland garden. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil but succeeds on most soils, though it is more likely to become chlorotic as a result of iron deficiency on alkaline soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Trees need full light and a lot of space. This species is one of the most shade tolerant of the N. American maples. It tolerates atmospheric pollution and so is often used as a street tree, though it can suffer from soil compaction and the use of salt on the roads in frosty weather. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.3. Hardy to about -45°c when fully dormant. A fast-growing tree for its first 40 years in the wild, this species is not a great success in Britain, though it does better than once thought. It grows well in Cornwall. In cultivation it has proved to be slow growing when young. Trees can live for 250 years in the wild. 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 its sub-species 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:Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
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 Uses:
Edible Parts: Inner bark; Leaves; Sap; Seed.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains quite a large proportion of sugar. This can be used as a refreshing drink, or be 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. The sap contains 2 – 6% sugar, thus about 32 litres are required to make a litre of maple syrup. Self-sown seedlings, gathered in early spring, are eaten fresh or dried for later use. Seeds – cooked. The wings are removed and the seeds boiled then eaten hot. 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 tea made from the inner bark is a blood tonic, diuretic and expectorant. It has been used in the treatment of coughs, diarrhoea etc. A compound infusion of the bark has been used as drops in treating blindness. The sap has been used for treating sore eyes. The inner bark has been used as an expectorant and cough remedy. Maple syrup is used in cough syrups and is also said to be a liver tonic and kidney cleanser. The Mohegan use the inner bark as a cough remedy, and the sap as a sweetening agent and to make maple syrup.

Other Uses:
Fuel; Potash; Preservative; Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. Wood – close grained, tough, hard, heavy, strong, not very durable, it takes a high polish, remains smooth under abrasion and has a high shock-resistance. It holds nails well, is fair in gluing, dries easily and shrinks moderately. The wood weighs 43lb per cubic foot. Considered by many to be the most valuable hardwood tree in N. America, the sugar maple is used for a wide range of applications including furniture, flooring, turnery, musical instruments and ship building. Accidental forms with the grain curled and contorted, known as curly maple and bird’s eye maple, are common and are highly prized in cabinet making. The wood is also a very good fuel, giving off a lot of heat and forming very hot embers. The ashes of the wood are rich in alkali and yield large quantities of potash

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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_saccharum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acer+saccharum

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Alnus rubra

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Botanical Name : Alnus rubra
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Subgenus: Alnus
Species: A. rubra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms :Alnus oregona.

Common Names : Red Alder, Oregon Alder

Habitat :Alnus rubra is native to Western N. America – Alaska to California. It grows on moist rich soils in woods, usually below 600 metres and within 50 km of the coast.

Description:
Alnus rubra is the largest species of deciduous alder tree in North America and one of the largest in the world, reaching heights of 20 to 30 m (66 to 98 ft). The official tallest red alder (1979) stands 32 m (105 ft) tall in Clatsop County, Oregon (USA). The name derives from the bright rusty red color that develops in bruised or scraped bark. The bark is mottled, ashy-gray and smooth, often draped with moss. The leaves are ovate, 7 to 15 centimetres (2.8 to 5.9 in) long, with bluntly serrated edges and a distinct point at the end; the leaf margin is revolute, the very edge being curled under, a diagnostic character which distinguishes it from all other alders. The leaves turn yellow in the autumn before falling. The male flowers are dangling reddish catkins 10 to 15 cm (3.9 to 5.9 in) long in early spring, and female flowers are erect catkins which develop into small, woody, superficially cone-like oval dry fruit 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 in) long. The seeds develop between the woody bracts of the ‘cones’ they are shed in the autumn and winter
It is in flower in March, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

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Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates very infertile sites. A very wind resistant tree with excellent establishment in severely exposed sites, it tolerates severe maritime exposure. The red alder is a very fast growing tree, even when planted in severe exposure, but it is short-lived, dying when 60 – 80 years old. Trees that are 5 years old from seed have reached 6 metres in height on a very exposed site in Cornwall, they are showing no signs of wind-shaping. This is an important pioneer tree, quickly invading logged or burnt over sites, and providing ideal conditions for other trees to become established. A very ornamental tree. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Red alder has been estimated to fix as much as 300 kg of nitrogen per hectare. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.
Edible Uses:
Catkins – raw or cooked. They are rich in protein but have a bitter flavour and are not very palatable. Inner bark – cooked, It must be dried since it is emetic when fresh. No more details are given but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. Sap – raw. Harvested in late winter, the flow is best on a warm, sunny day that follows a cold frosty night. A sweet flavour, it was often used to sweeten other foods. Buds.
Medicinal Uses:
Red alder was widely employed medicinally by native North American Indians who mainly used the bark to treat a wide range of complaints. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. The bark is appetizer, astringent, cathartic, cytostatic, emetic, stomachic and tonic. The bark contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of many complaints such as headaches, rheumatic pains, internal injuries and diarrhoea. Externally, a poultice of the bark has been applied to eczema, sores and aches. The sap is applied externally to cuts. The catkins and young cones are astringent and have been chewed in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses:
Charcoal; Dye; Fuel; Hedge; Pioneer; Shelterbelt; Soil stabilization; Tannin; Wood.

A fast-growing and very wind resistant tree, it is an excellent plant for providing rapidly produced shelterbelts. The trees extensive root system also makes it suitable for controlling erosion along the banks of rivers. This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc. Its fast rate of growth means that it quickly provides sheltered conditions to allow more permanent woodland trees to become established. In addition, bacteria on the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen – whilst this enables the tree to grow well in quite poor soils it also makes some of this nitrogen available to other plants growing nearby. Alder trees also have a heavy leaf canopy and when the leaves fall in the autumn they help to build up the humus content of the soil. Alder seedlings do not compete well in shady woodland conditions and so this species gradually dies out as the other trees become established. Tannin is obtained from the bark and the strobils. Both the roots and the young shoots have been used in making baskets. A red to brown dye is obtained from the bark. Wood – soft, brittle, not strong, light, close and straight-grained, very durable in water. An important lumber tree, it makes a good imitation mahogany and is used for cheap furniture etc. A good fuel, it does not spark so can be used in the open, it also makes a high grade charcoal.

Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control,  Woodland garden.

Known Hazards : The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried.
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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rubra
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+rubra