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The Life Cycle of The Maple Tree
Transcript of The Life Cycle of The Maple Tree
Maple trees are prolific producers of seeds, and their seedlings generally are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, giving the trees ample opportunities to establish themselves and begin their life cycles. Most maples grow quickly early in life, and then settle into a long period of slow growth, gradually becoming majestic mature trees.
The timing of flowering, seed production, dispersal and germination depends on the species of maple tree. The red maple flowers very early in the spring, usually several weeks before its leaf buds open, while the sugar maple flowers after its leaves have emerged. The red maple's fruit ripens before its leaves have developed, and seeds are dispersed between April and July. The sugar maple's fruit ripens through the summer, and seeds are dispersed in September and October. Red maple seeds usually germinate in late summer, while sugar maple seeds germinate in the spring after their fall dispersal.
Seeds from trees such as the red maple may hold off germination until the second year after dispersal, if the seeds happen to be shaded out by other vegetation. Seeds tend to react to events such as fire and cutting by increased rates of germination. Maples tend to produce a large quantity of seeds, and soil requirements of maple seedlings are generally flexible, so seedlings are often plentiful.
Many species of maple grow quickly in the sapling stage and decrease their growth rates as they reach maturity. Sugar maples begin growing very early in the spring, and red maples begin their growth cycle soon after. Sugar maples grow in height for about 15 weeks after the start of the growth season, and they grow radially for 14 to 17 weeks. Red maples grow more quickly and achieve almost their full- height growth in about eight weeks after stem elongation begins. Sugar maples grow an average of 1 in height annually for the first 30 to 40 years, and red maples grow even faster.
As maples reach maturity, their growth rate slows dramatically. After 140 to 150 years, the vertical growth of sugar maples cease entirely, and radial growth becomes very slow. Old-growth sugar maples may be as old as 300 to 400 years, and the trees' height may range from 70 to 110 feet. Red maples reach maturity in 70 to 80 years and rarely live longer than 150 years. Mature trees are typically 60 to 90 feet in height.
Red maple occurs in wet soils, especially along rivers and stream banks, swamps from Minnesota to Newfoundland and south to Florida and Texas.
Sugar maple occurs in forests and woodlands on mesic soils in valleys and uplands throughout Manitoba to Newfoundland, south to North Carolina and Kansas. Some disjunct populations in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina.
The red maple is also call scarlet maple and swamp maple. Sugar maple is also called hard maple, and rock maple.
Sugar maples are also important commercially as lumber.
The red maple has the greatest north-south range of all tree species on the east coast.
All maples produce sap that can be used as outlined above, however sugar maples produce the best and the most sap, each tree potentially producing between 5 and 60 gallons each year.
Photos & Captions
Red maple leaves and gold on a cottonwood announce the arrival of fall in the pink sandstone canyons of Zion National Park in Utah. Both tree species hug water sources in this arid land of high plateaus and rock towers.
Sugar Maple leaves are similar to the leaves of the Red Maple. The differences are that the Sugar Maple has smooth margins between the lobes and U-shaped spaces. Red Maples have serrated margins and V-shaped spaces.
By. Mikayla A. McVeigh
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Red Maple Trees