Look, Mabel, there’s a green tree!

striped maple (2)I just love striped maple. Then again, how could you not love a tree with a green striped trunk?

This handsome guy only grows in the higher elevations around here and seems to favor shady ravines.

It’s also known as moosewood because — duh — moose, rabbits, beaver and deer eat the bark, especially in winter.

So here, a ton of information on the green man of the mountains:

STRIPED MAPLE. Acer pensylvanicum. Soapwort Family (Sapindaceae)However, only one  maple, the striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), is identifiable by its bark alone. Striped maples, the second smallest maple in the Northeast, are not overly abundant; and rarely do they reach maturity in the wild, without mishap. But where soils and hydrology suit (cool, moist, forested north-facing slopes of granitic drift) striped maples can grow thirty feet or more, taller than their companion understory trees, the mountain maple (Acer spicatum). Striped maples, even in ideal habitats, have open crowns and are relatively short-lived. They are slender, narrowly branched trees, befitting their preference for shade beneath the forest canopy.

Most of the striped maples encounteredhave diameters smaller than five or six inches. Many have multiple trunks, evidence of wildlife browsing. Often there are long scars and tattered peelings on the trees’ trunks, signs that bucks have scraped their antlers against the striped maples’ obligingly smooth bark. Two of the other common names for striped maple are apt: moosewood and moose maple.
But young, old, scarred or unscathed, there is one unmistakable characteristic of the striped maple: glabrous, unfurrowed, and striated bark. The stripes are generally white against green but can also be deep green, even black, against reddish-green. Bill Cullina in Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines describes the stripes as “serpentine” and striped maple is, indeed, one of the so-called snakebark maples, more commonly found in Asia.

In the eighteenth century, European botanists who travelled both to eastern North America and to eastern Asia (or studied the herbaria of other botanical explorers) noticed similarities between the flora of these two disparate geographic regions. It was in 1750 that the theory of disjunction was introduced by Jonas P. Halenius (but probably written by his teacher, Carl Linnaeus [1707-1778]).[iii] In 1818 phytogeography and disjunct plants were described in Genera of North American Plants by Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859). Disjunction was often the subject of the correspondence between the American botanist Asa Gray (1810-1885) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Gray was the evolutionist’s champion in America. And, significantly, he used fossil evidence[iv] as he sought to reconcile the floristic semblances between two far-flung geographies, bridging time and distance while buttressing the new science of evolution. The phytogeographers are honored in many American plant names, but it was Carl Linnaeus, the author of modern scientific classification, who named Acer pensylvanicum and misspelled the second (species) designation.

STRIPED MAPLE. Acer pensylvanicum. Soapwort Family (Sapindaceae)Acer pensylvanicum was one of many New World species sent to England by the Philadelphia farmer, naturalist and explorer John Bartram (1699-1777). Bartram wandered from Lake Ontario to Florida, searching for plants to send to an avid British horticultural market. Bartram collected seeds and seedlings, tubers and roots, which were cumbrously (and perilously) transported to his London agent, and fellow Quaker, Peter Collinson (1694-1768). The fraught Atlantic crossings, and delays in recompense (including disruptions and wholesale losses while the French preyed upon English ships and their cargoes during the French and Indian Wars from 1689-1763) nearly bankrupted Bartram. But the popularity of his exported discoveries, the beauty and novelty of American flora eventually transformed British gardening. Since many of Bartram’s specimens, like the striped maple, comprised the Eastern American forest or its understory, a naturalistic style evolved to accommodate the needs of these woodlanders. Acer pensylvanicum is still a prized landscape specimen in British gardens, along with its Asian snakebark cousins.

Author: luzerne2112

As I get older -- and I'm 70 now -- I seem to find more and more that nature is the true source of peace, inspiration and, most of all, the truth the passeth understanding. Though my knowledge is sketchy and superficial, I wanted to share it while I can.

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