Spring Love Affair Series – Silver Maple

As the sun’s glow grows stronger and a hint of warmth rides in on the breeze, we can’t help but fall into some pretty blissful love affairs with the abundance of life returning around us.

So, we’ve decided to start a fun little series featuring local trees, creatures and plant species and proclaim our giddy love for them! The second intention of this series of love stories is to offer a related thought about connecting to the land in our daily lives.

Shall we begin with the Silver Maple?

These days, it’s easy to know a Silver Maple. That’s because this tree is the most enthusiastic early bloomer of all the trees around here. In early March,  Silver Maple’s bright red buds seem to grow larger each day. In fact, it’s pretty fair to say that if you find yourself admiring a tall tree’s buds in early March, you’ve just made friends with a Silver Maple. And we are not the only grateful ones; the return of these buds brings the return of playful squirrels bursting with energy in the treetops, fuelled by tasty snacks of Silver Maple buds. Any day now, the buds will begin to burst into thick clusters of soft red, yellow and green flowers, just in time for the season’s early pollinating insects. Looking closely at a branch, we found a colony of ants pursuing the sweet, waxy coating on the buds.

Silver Maple Bark! (this tree lives on Park St. South)

Another good place to find a Silver Maple is in or near water. These trees love to grow on lands that are covered in water for most or all of the year. We’ve been spending a lot of time in the swamp these days, which is an excellent place to spot a Silver Maple, standing tallest over stands of White Elm, Tamarack, and Cedar.

The tough Silver maple also grows well in the harsh front-lawn environment. Some wonderfully old trees can be found scattered in downtown Hamilton neighbourhoods.  Some of our favourite city Silver Maples stand at Coulbourne and MacNab St, Ferguson and Rebecca St, along Park St South, and (possibly the biggest of all) along Dundurn St North. These city friends are easy to spot because a Silver Maple growing in the open can grow enormously tall and wide.

Our favourite way to know a Silver maple, easy all year round, is to get to know its unique bark. Silver Maple bark is grey and grows in long, layered

Silver Maples are fast growing, and quite often their trunks become hollow. Just the perfect home for the raccoons, birds, squirrels, owls and other creatures living in our neighborhoods. (this tree lives in the York Blvd. cemetary's sunken garden)

strips that sometimes delicately curl up a bit at the ends, especially on old trees. Give yourself a few minutes to observe, touch, appreciate, and get to know this bark, and you will never miss a Silver Maple!

By taking notice of the vibrant red buds flooding the city skies these days, we are giving our senses a treat. How many of our senses do we exercise in looking at signs, watching traffic, or letting our gaze settle on yet another crappy advertisement? The manufactured city landscape is an impoverishd sensory environment. but by learning about the Silver Maple and the other plants that share the city with us, we begin to see familiar friends in every crack and vacant lot. This refreshes our minds, sharpens our senses, and offers us a new way of looking (and smelling, hearing, touching, tasting) the spaces around us.



2 responses to “Spring Love Affair Series – Silver Maple

  1. We had a big one of these in our backyard. It was very large around, we hooked up 4 sprues and collected alot of sap. The stuff is great to drink fresh, the cleanest purest tasting water I’ve ever had. We boiled it down on our stove and now have lots of maple syrup. Its a time consuming process but definitely worth it. Mapling sugaring is also great because its one of the first wild food sources that come available as winter recides.

    • That’s really cool! Had heard of people making syrup from Silver Maple (Manitoba Maple too, for that matter), but not that it was palatable right out of the tree! The buds of Silver Maple are also pretty tasty — got some that a squirrel dropped the other day.

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