THE SUGAR MAPLE.
Acer saccharum, Marsh.
The sugar maple (see illustration, page 198-199) is eco nomically the most important member of its family in this country. As an avenue and shade tree it is unsurpassed. It is the great timber maple, whose curly and birds-eye wood is loved by the cabinet-maker; and whose sap boiled down, :yields maple sugar—a delicious sweet, with the distinctive flavor beloved by all good Americans. In October the sugar maple paints the landscape with yellow and orange and red. Its firm broad leaves, shallowly cleft into five lobes, are variously toothed besides. The flowers open late, hanging on the season's shoots in hairy yellow clusters. The key fruits are smooth and plump, with wings only slightly diverging. They are shed in midsummer.
Hard maple wood outranks all other maple lumber, though the curly grain and the bird's-eye are accidental forms rarely found. Flooring makes special demands
upon this wood. Much is used in furniture factories; and small wares—shoe lasts, shoe pegs and the like—consume a great deal. As fuel, hard maple is outranked only by hickory. Its ashes are rich in potash and are in great de mand as fertilizer in orchards and gardens.
The living tree, in the park, on the street, casting its shade about the home, or glowing red among the trees of the woods, is more valuable than its lumber. Slow-grow ing, strong to resist damage by storm, clean in habit and beautiful the year round—this is our splendid rock maple. Rich, indeed, is the city whose early inhabitants chose it as the permanent street tree.