Mountain Red Maple

Mountain Red Maple

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Mountain Maple - Acer Spicatum

The mountain maple tree is from the soapberry plant family and will grow to a maximum of twenty-five feet. They are found in upland garden locations flowering in the spring, primarily in the northeastern part of North America and in the hardwood forests of the southern Appalachian mountains. The tree grows best in moist, rich soil and produces beautiful leaves of varying hues in moderate sunlight. The mountain maple's majestic beauty and unique appearance sets it apart from the rest. The leaves have sharp points and teeth that are coarse. Their upright flower panicles are reflected in the latin name of the tree, spicatum, which means spike-bearing. They are yellowish green in the summer and turn a deep red in the fall. The intricate veining of the leaf is a textural masterpiece. The thickest bark is brown and grey with a rough, wart-like appearance. The thinner bark is green with a smoother texture. 

The French zoologist and botanist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, provides the plant classification code LAM. He is most famous for his theory that plants and trees acquire inherited traits. Interestingly, the original name of this particular species was Acer montanum, but maples later moved to the Sapindaceae family and were renamed. The mountain maple is often compared to the striped maple, but there are major differences such as the stripes and the flower racemes. The mountain maple has no stripes and the racemes are straight, not curved as in the striped maple. From a distance the trees look similar, because the thin stripes of the striped maple are not easily visible from a distance. The mountain rich maple's sap is sweet and boiled to make maple syrup, especially in New England and Canada. The bark is also valuable for its tannin quality used to manufacture leather. There were many ancient remedies derived from the mountain maple and some still used today.

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