This is that time of year when I get really excited about fall. The leaves, the colors, Halloween!
It is also at this time, that I find it really fun to imagine what my forest will look like in just a couple of months.
Deciduous forests are especially exciting and in particular, the maples. But there are a few main types of maple trees and not all produce the oranges. So, when you are out on your favorite trail, there are a couple of features that will aid your investigation before you begin to predict what your forest will look like.
The main two types of maples to decipher will be the Sugar Maple and the Norway Maple. The leaves of these trees are more difficult to distinguish than the Red Maple or the Silver Maple.
Sugar Maples produce the neon reds and oranges, while Norway Maple leaves turn a brilliant yellow. At this time of year, both leaves will be green, and have about 5 lobes (pointy sections).
Norway leaves are generally bigger, which is why their Latin name, Acer platanoides, makes sense (leaf as big as a plate). If the leaf size is smaller, gently pull a leaf off and look at the base of the stem. If a milky white substance appears on the stem, it is a Norway Maple. If not, it is a Sugar Maple…and you know which one to tap in the spring ;)
You may want to draw your prediction to take along when you explore this fall. Happy hiking!