Other thoughts filled my head. I was thinking about the class about backyard maple sugaring that we plan to offer this year. More precisely, I was considering how to help people find maples when it is just time to tap. I have been asked many times, but wanted to find a way to show it rather than just describe it. Lying on the bed, I pulled the curtains aside to look at the sky. This perfect descriptive view greeted me.
The tree on the left is a maple. The one on the right is an oak. Just looking at the photo as is, we can see some of the difference. Closer inspection of a real tree, not a photo taken with a phone, will yield others.:
- Maple branch and twig ends are slender. Oaks twig ends flare out.
- Maple branches gracefully sweep toward the sky. Oak branches twist and bend with each fork.
- Maples will shed all of their leaves in the fall. Oaks will often hold some of the dry leaves.
- Maple twigs and leaf buds are arranged in an opposite configuration. Oaks prefer to be alternate.
- Maple sap will start flowing about a month before that of the oaks. Check the tips of the twigs for signs of life. Early in the season the buds will be small on the maple trees, but they will be alive. In fact, the buds will be fully developed, full size and obvious, at the end of the sugaring season. My trees are Red Maples and when the sap starts to flow the tips of the twigs turn red instead of the gray the showed through the Winter.
- Maples will drop maple leaves. Oaks drop oak leaves and acorns. If the ground is not too snowy, check the base of the tree to see what is there. Obviously, this will work better if there is only one type of tree in the area or if the tree is standing alone.
- Maples, when tapped this time of year, will produce sap. Oaks will not (see bullet above about sap flow). Note, it is OK to make mistakes, because that is how we learn (sometimes we need to learn this lesson two years in a row).
- If you are not in a hurry, you can wait for the Summer and make note of you maples for next year.
Yes, the cycle of the year has taken us back to sugaring season! With each passing year, this MooseBoots learning feels more and more right. I am truly blessed.
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