The beauty of autumn also lies in the color of the leaves of the American maples, which change color and transform the landscape into something incredible, beautiful, cloaked in the mists or under the sun, changing the shades of the day.
The sugar maple, sugar maple or Canadian maple is a species belonging to the Aceraceae family, widespread in North America. The fast-growing tree has not given appreciable acclimatization results in Europe, while it is widespread in large American public and private parks.
Due to its importance, the leaf of this maple appears on the flag of Canada. The tree has a rather slow initial growth: during the first 10 years it forms a tree 10–15 m high at most, branched from the bottom. In the woods it reaches 30–35 m, but can reach up to 40 m, with a typically expanded habit.
The twigs are brittle and hairless. It has opposite deciduous leaves, with deep veins, from tri- to five-lobed and up to 13 cm long; the lobes, slightly incised, are separated by obtuse angles. Dark green, in autumn they take on shades of brilliant gradations from golden yellow to orange, up to crimson and scarlet.
The most spectacular moult occurs in the northern area of the range, where there is the right alternation of sunny days and cold nights. The petiole is opaque and latex-free. The bark is gray or gray-brown, smooth or furrowed with light distinct vertical lines.
With age it darkens and cracks. Its range includes the southeastern part of Canada and the northeastern part of the United States, from Newfoundland and Manitoba in the north to Florida in the south and Utah in the west. The sugary sap which contains 1 to 4% sucrose is the source of maple syrup.
It is collected by making holes in the bark; once the sap was made to drip with special straws into buckets placed in the cavities placed at the base of the trees, where it was made to evaporate; today a centralized piping system is used.
Maple sugar and syrup are obtained from the sap. It takes more than 40 liters of sap to make one liter of syrup. Canadian maple wood is also used for the construction of skateboard decks, in the form of 7 or 9 mm plywood.
Acer Palmatum, the star of the Fall
The incredible shades of this incredible oriental plant have fascinated explorers, botanists and enthusiasts for centuries.
The palmate leaves take on incredible colors, especially in autumn: from dark red to yellow-orange. A riot of beauty, especially when combined with the sinuous grace of the trunk and branches, bruised and almost tending to silver.
In Japanese or oriental gardens it is one of the main and most spectacular plants due to its characteristics. Thanks to its peculiarities, the Japanese maple lends itself well to bonsai cultivation. The palmate maple or Acer palmatum is a shrub belonging to the Aceraceae family.
It is originally from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. There are a lot of types of Japanese maple, and also the Acer circinatum is commonly referred to as the Japanese maple family, although it is native to the western United States.
Acer palmatum is a deciduous plant, it grows as a shrub or small tree and can reach 6-10 meters in height, in some cases it can reach 16 meters. When young it has an inverted pyramid bearing, in adult specimens it assumes a dome shape.
The leaves are deciduous, opposite, palmate-lobed with 5-7 or 9 lobes, deeply incised. The dimensions of the flap, as a rule, are 3.5-6 cm in length and 3-7 cm in width. The flowers are unisexual or hermaphrodite, gathered in corymb inflorescences, not very evident.
They bloom in the period of March-April before the vegetative restart. The flower is composed of 5 purple, yellow or green sepals and 5 petals. The fruits are very divergent and long pedunculated, with a size of 1,5-2 cm each samara; they ripen in late summer.
The seed, 5-8 mm large, needs stratification to germinate. Acer palmatum has been cultivated for centuries in Japan for its posture and the beauty of the foliage, particularly evident in autumn when it takes on a lively red color.
Widely cultivated in nurseries where many cultivars can be found, mainly reproduced by cuttings. Also very popular in the bonsai technique, thanks to its great adaptability to pot cultivation. It has no particular needs as regards the type of terrain and altitude, but it fears water stagnation and excessively cold currents; as far as exposure is concerned, it is necessary to take into account that, while loving sunny exposures, shading is advisable during hours with excessive insolation in warmer climates. It does not particularly like pruning, especially the more severe ones, to which it reacts poorly.