Maple Trees

Stories about maple trees that make all those ever so delicious maple syrup.

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Eastern Forests Change Color As Red Maples Proliferate

"Liberated from their swamp ghettos, red maples have become abundant in the understory -- the carpet of saplings and smaller plants under the canopy -- of many forested stretches in the Middle Atlantic States, the Northeast, the Midwest, the Great Lakes region and in higher Southern elevations like the Appalachians and Piedmont. When the oaks and other species of older trees die, red maples will replace them, Dr. Abrams said. In some spots, that has already happened.

This is all the more remarkable, he said, because the red maple, though versatile, is not especially robust. In the conventional terms of plant physiology, the faster a plant converts sunlight to energy and the better it is at sucking up nutrients, adapting to drought and ''breathing'' efficiently, the better it can compete with other plants.

The red maple is not particularly good at any of these; it is ''toward the low side of average'' in such measures, Dr. Abrams said. ''It's leading me to believe that studies at the physiological level don't tell us very much about the ecological success'' of a plant, he said."

Maple Syrup Taps, 1997-2012

This graph shows how many maple taps were driven in for each state. New York State and Vermont are the nation's biggest maple producers, but there are several other states that have smaller numbers of trees tapped. This is a consolidation of county level data, those counties with only one farm reporting maple production, were not included in the survey results, which depresses tap counts in states that are marginal maple producers.

Data Source: USDA Agriculture Census, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012. Maple Taps. Counts. https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/