The leaf is about the size of the palm of my hand, and almost circular. The border is cut into many shallow lobes. The seeds are char acteristic keys, smooth, and the wings of each pair are spread almost opposite each other.
The Norway maple is a most popular street tree. Its foliage is very dense, and the tree forms a round, symmetrical head. The broad, five-lobed leaves are remotely toothed, smooth, thin, and dark green on both sides. Break a leaf stem, and a milky juice appears. The seeds are very flat, and have broad, flaring wings. The flowers are yellowish. Great clusters of them come out with the leaves. The seeds are ripe in autumn.
We shall find that the foliage of the Norway maple stands the wear and tear better than that of many shade trees. The crown of a Norway maple turns to bright gold in autumn, and most of the leaves are still unmarred when they fall.
The box elder is the one native maple which has compound leaves. The leaf blade is cleft quite to the stem, and the thirds form separate leaflets, each mounted on its own stalk. These leaves are set opposite on the twigs, like those of other maples.
In spring pink fringes like corn silk decorate the branches of certain box elder trees. Other trees of the same kind hide little green flowers among the opening leaves. The pink fringes are the pollen-bearing flowers, which fall when ripe. Staminate trees never bear fruit. All through the summer the trees which bore the greenish flower are dangling clusters of pale green seeds, each with the peculiar wing, which proves it a maple. When the ragged, yellowing foliage falls, these seed clusters remain on the branches, and all through the winter the wind is plucking and carrying them away.
The wood of box elder is very soft. The tree is planted because it grows so quickly and surely, and its seeds are so easily obtained. But broken branches give the older trees a crippled, unhappy look, and the ragged clusters of seeds give them a disheveled appearance all winter. Fortunate is the man who has planted elms or hard maples along the road, so that he may take out the de crepit box elders, and have the better trees com ing on to take their places.
The striped maple is a little tree, which hides in the woods, and only a few people know the tree, and love it as it deserves. The stripes are on its smooth green bark, which breaks into a network of furrows as the stems increase in diameter. These furrows expose a very pale under-bark, so that at a short distance the trunk seems to be delicately traced with white lines.
In its blossoming season the striped maple has a loose, drooping cluster of yellow, bell-like flow ers. The leaves that surround them are broad and shallowly three-lobed, and saw-toothed all around. The seeds are little maple keys, smaller than those of the red maple.
The mountain maple is another little tree quite as modest and retiring as its striped cousin. It has longer, more taper-pointed leaves. The flower clusters are much smaller than those of the striped maple, and they stand erect. The fruits hang late in the winter, on the grey downy twigs, which are brightened by red buds.