(Brought to you by Stang Tree Service in Oshkosh)
The Sugar Maple
Every state has designated motifs that represent its unique background. One of Wisconsin’s well-known, and appreciated, state symbols is the sugar maple tree. The title of state tree was made official in 1949. The sugar maple was so popular; it won two statewide votes, one in 1893 and another in 1948. School children from all over Wisconsin voted, and the sugar maple won both times, despite substantial advocating by lovers of the white pine. Legislature named the sugar maple the official state tree by establishing Chapter 218, Laws of 1949.
About the Sugar Maple
Wisconsin is not the only state to have made the sugar maple their official symbol. New York, West Virginia, and Vermont have also had the pleasure of calling this beautiful tree their own. This spectacular arbor grows at a slow to medium rate and reaches up to 60 to 75 feet high, as well as 40 to 50 feet wide. The sugar maple doesn’t often bloom until they are at least 22 years old, but they live up to 400 years, so in sugar maple years, 22 is relatively early.
Making Maple Syrup
The sugar maple has many names, among them hard maple or rock maple. The sap that comes from the trunks of this amazingly versatile tree is used to make maple syrup, one of the main reasons school children most likely voted for it. The sap of the sugar maple needs to be tapped early in the spring in order make syrup. The process involves boiling all of the extra fluid out of the sap. To produce 1 gallon of maple syrup, one must start with a total of 34 gallons of sap! On average, a tapped sugar maple can produce between 10 and twenty gallons per tap.
Other Uses of the Sugar Maple
Native Americans, according to John Smith, had many uses for the Sugar Maple. They used the syrup to barter for other sources, but also used the inner bark of the tree to make dye and tea that helped to treat coughs and diarrhea. The tree’s ash was used to make soap, and the syrup helped with kidney and liver problems. The wood from the tree is dense, hard, and close-grained which makes it a useful timber tree. One can make furniture, flooring, veneer, musical instruments, and a wide variety of woodenware.
What Makes the Sugar Maple Beautiful
In the fall, the leaves of the sugar maple turn to a vast array of colors, including yellow, burnt orange, and red. If you catch it at the right time, the tree can have all of those colors as well as green. The sugar maple grows in a round or oval shape, giving you plenty of pretty shade to enjoy. Another reason the school children of Wisconsin must have voted for this tree is its seeds. They come in pairs and are winged, looking similar to helicopter blades. The seeds mature in September and October and spin in circles as they gently fall to the ground, giving them the moniker “helicopter seeds.”