ACER or MAPLE

T. These deciduous trees are mostly very hardy and easy to grow, though the Japanese kinds (Acer palmatum and its various forms) are rather less hardy and prefer a sheltered position in cold districts. They are easily damaged by late spring frosts and cold winds. Acers prefer a soil which does not readily dry out. In autumn, the foliage of many species is tinted with rich shades of yellow and red. Among the many species suitable for gardens are the different forms of Acer palmatum which mostly grow to about 12 ft. A

P. atropurpureum has bronzy-crimson leaves and A P. septemlobum osakazuki fiery scarlet leaves. A. griseum, the paperbark maple, has mahogany-coloured bark which can be peeled off to reveal the new orange bark beneath. It grows to about 25 ft. The common sycamore, great maple or false plane (Acer pseudoplatanus), though tough and practically indestructible, flourishing in smoky areas, very exposed, windswept places and near the sea, is by no means an ideal tree for small gardens. The foliage is frequently attacked by the black blotch disease (often confused with rose black spot, but the two diseases are distinct and are not transmissible). Unfortunately this disorder is very difficult to control except by burning the fallen leaves, a somewhat laborious process when every leaf may be infected. Acers are increased by seed sown in autumn in a cold frame. They are also grafted on to the same species as the scion (the young shoot of the tree intended for grafting).

The maple leaf is the national emblem of Canada. Acer saccharum, the sugar maple, yields sugar and syrup, but this North American species seems unsuited to British conditions. The wood of several maples is useful for timber (bird’s eye maple is well-known in the furniture trade). The white wood of the sycamore is fine-grained, easy to work and is employed to a limited extent for the tops of kitchen tables and other equipment which needs frequent cleaning.

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