Maple Trees Identification and uses

As you may already know, maple trees are not a single species, as there are approximately 125 different species of maples that thrive throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Many maples are endemic to North America, and are often used to complement garden landscapes. In the past, Native peoples of North America used maples both for nourishment and medicinal purposes.

Asia, Europe, northern Africa, and North America.
Deciduous trees, (evergreen in some regions, shrubs in some areas). Leaves are alternated. Flowers are very tiny, producing winged seeds in small clusters. Generalized description impossible due to larger variation between species. See images below of leaf shape.

Food Uses:
Maples have very sweet spring sap, perfect for making top-quality syrups and sugar. Although modern extraction techniques have improved the ease of making syrup, the basic theory remains the same. Since trees are producing huge amounts of syrup in the sypup in the spring, healthy mature trees can produce a fair amount of extra syrup which can be extracted by drilling a hole. This syrup is then boiled to the desired consistency. Maple seeds are apparently edible, and can be cooked like a vegetable, though not very palatable.

Medicinal uses:
Maple bark tea can be used to treat bites from snakes. A combination of maple and saskatoon berry bush branches (see saskatoon berry bush) can be used to help stimulate milk production in new mothers.

Other Uses:
Maple wood can be used to make good-quality hardwood handles for axes, digging sticks, in modern times, furniture. Maples are also used for the creation of meticulous bonsai, eco-tourism for autumn foliage colors and common ornamental trees, (especially the Japanese Maple). The maple leaf is the symbol on the Canadian Flag. As a source of pollen, Maple trees are also key to the survival of honey bees.
In Modern times, Maple has become a very valuable wood for instruments (such as guitars and drums), furniture, baseball bats and the like. See image below for an illustrative example of high-quality maple wood furniture.

Some sources report that the bark tea is slightly toxic. The bud resin may irritate sensitive skin. Do not take maple products if you are sensitive to other wild plant compounds. Remember that this article is no way is intended to offer medical advice; it is merely an interesting resource for those who would like to become more familiar with some useful plants.