Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Flowers: Red Maple

Early spring in Ontario is devoid of much landscape colour. If one looks closely under the cover of dead grasses from last season, green shoots are visible and new vegetation is growing. For most of this week the skies have been grey and the earth brown. (Yesterday everything was once again covered in a spring snowfall and we will have a white Easter!). I was walking in a field near our house and came across this red maple tree in bloom.

The beautiful and delicate red flowers were just opening up. The red maple blooms very early in the spring, about the same time that pussy willows are found. The leaves will not develop for a few more weeks, usually around the first of May in this area.
Canada's arboreal emblem is a generic maple leaf and it features very prominently on our national flag. "Of the 150 known species of maple (genus Acer), only 13 are native to North America. Ten of these grow in Canada: Sugar, Black, Silver, bigleaf, Red, Mountain, Striped, Douglas, Vine and the Manitoba. With the exception of four species, native maples are large trees. At least one of the ten species grows naturally in every province." (source)


Yesterday we were driving north of the city and noticed many maple sap collection pails in the woodlots. This is peak maple syrup production time in our region. Last Saturday, 70,000 people attended the annual Maple Syrup Festival in nearby Elmira, Ontario. Many Old Order Mennonite farmers sell maple products and small sales tables are often seen at the end of their laneways. The sugar maple is used primarily for maple syrup, but red maple sap, although lower in sugar content, can also be used.
This tree gives early spring a red start and ends the growing season in a fall blaze of red leaves.
The weather gives the impression of a slow start to spring, but nature is opening up on schedule if we take the time to observe.

10 comments:

  1. After looking at your post I am thinking about French Toast with real maple syrup!

    -That's a big variety of Maple Trees-I'm wondering how many we have.-nice photos too.

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  2. How neat to see just how much sap can be collected. I had seen a segment on the news recently about how with the gradual climate changes, maple syrup production will at some point cease in Vermont (and across New England in the US) and will only be possible in Canada. Another sad fact about the denial of global climate change.

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  3. I love those little Maple Syrup Sugar Cubes! Hmmm

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  4. We just travelled through Quebec and of course I had to stop and pick up my annual supply of maple syrup. It's much cheaper in PQ than buying it elsewhere.
    Apple & Ham Crepes with real maple syrup ...mmmmmmm good!!!

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  5. Hello, Body, soul and spirit. Does the maple festival come again this year.
    Bye,
    Samuel

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  6. While most like the maple syrup, I like the horse-driven carriage. Lovely tour, Ruth. Snow? Hmmmph.

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  7. Time to tap the maples. I really like the photo of the sap; interesting how clear it is, and how it ends up being amber after the long boiling down process. The photo of the cart put me in mind of my grandfather who grew up around Stevensville, Ontario, and would deliver fresh eggs and milk to neighbors from a horse-drawn cart.

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  8. Your blogs are awesome. Love your pictures and comments.

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  9. I'm wondering if this cold snap will slow the sap. These are lovely pictures and I've just started to peruse your previous posts.

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  10. Larry- We are enjoying maple syrup in a number of ways right now. We buy a case of canned syrup each year...yum!

    Jayne- This winter started so late, but it has been an excellent season here for sap production. Cold nights and sunny days are needed. It would be too bad if production ceased south of the border.

    Mon@rch- They are very sweet, but in small doses they are delicious!

    OmaLois- Quebec maple syrup in Arizona. I prefer syrup with savoury foods rather than putting it on something already sweet, like icecream.

    Birdman- The syrup festival is only once a year, on the first weekend of April. So many people go, that we stay home now. We visited the sugar bush 2 weeks before the festival.

    Mary- The wagon ride is fun...lots of mud!

    KGMom- Stevensville has changed a lot since your grandfather drove a horse and wagon around it. It is a lovely area as is most of the Ontario side of the Niagara Region.

    Mom- Glad you have figured out how to comment!

    Cathy- Thanks- This cold snap has likely slowed things as the days have been below freezing. Next week should be better!

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