Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marvelous Maples

The maples are gorgeous now with their  winged seeds setting blaze to the high and low places in the wet woods.






They float in small rafts on the water and pile up around logs.



I collected some and took to school to show my students. They were amazed to see how they spin and twirl when dropped. I gave two to each child. It just might have been the best toy they had lately!----which is interesting, considering all the electronic ones they bring to school.


Liz said...

It has been a bit windy here lately and I've been enjoying watching the seeds blow off the tree. Its like watching an entire marching band suddenly decide they'll all be ballerinas and twirl down to earth.

David said...

Some interesting stuff from the USDA Silvics Manual on Acer rubrum:

"Seed Production and Dissemination- A seed crop occurs almost every year, and on an average, a good to bumper crop occurs once in every 2 years (14). Red maple is generally very fruitful. Trees 5 to 20 cm in d.b.h. (2 to 8 in) can yield seed crops of 12,000 to 91,000 seeds. A 30-cm (12-in) tree yielded nearly a million seeds (1). It is possible to stimulate red maple seed production through fertilization. The stimulation often lasts 2 years and may yield up to 10 times more seeds than an unfertilized stand (4).

The fruit, a double samara, ripens from April to June before leaf development is complete. After ripening, seeds are dispersed for a 1- to 2-week period during April through July. The seed does not require pregermination treatment and can germinate immediately after ripening. The fruits are among the lightest of the maple fruits, averaging about 51,000 cleaned seeds per kilogram (23,OOOflb). In general, fruits are heavier in northern latitudes. Red maple fruit from Canada, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where the normal growing season is 80 to 150 days, averaged 23 gr (1.5 g)/100 fruits. On the other hand, in Rhode Island, Kentucky, and South Carolina, with a frost-free period of 180 to 240 days, the weight averaged 17 gr (1.1 g)/100 fruits. Because the fruits are small and winged, they disperse efficiently in the wind. Germination may be 75 to 80 percent in 2 to 6 days. Total germination is often 85 to 91 percent (59,66)."