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  • Clarke Wallace

DON'T LEAF THEM BE

We’re talking about leaves. A lousy pun, but true. We have trees on the property whose branches caress the deck railing. I’ve always wanted to identify the different types of maples here. Mostly which ones the sugar maples.


It wasn’t until I read an older copy of the Saturday Globe and Mail, under ‘Mistaken identi-tree’ showing companies that use drawings of the maple leaf as a brand. Air Canada. The Globe and Mail among them.


One was labeled the sugar maple. The one depicted in the article has three wide lobes - or main points - each with a ‘few irregular wavy teeth,' with two one-point lobes near the stem.


This explanation came from Peter Kuitenbrouwer who holds a master’s degree in forest conservation at the University of Toronto.


He's serious when telling us the bare facts about the Norway maple. The city forestry departments planted them some years ago because they tolerate ‘concrete, soil compaction, pollution and other indignities of urban life.

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Sounds like the good news? Not so. The Norway maple takes over forests, spreading its thick leaves that open first and fall last. It shades native oaks, pines, other maples cannot establish themselves.

Throw in native insects, birds and mammals who don't thrive in Norway maple forests and we have a problem. Besides, its leaves don’t turn bright colors in the fall. They take on black spots before falling off. Very undignified.


Author’s comment: You might be relieved to know that writer Peter Kuitenbrouwer mentions how Dalhousie U. in Halifax is getting rid of Norway maples on its campus; Montreal is getting rid of them on Mount Royal; New York’s Central Park is pulling up Norway maple seedlings when they notice them. That should tell us something. (Photo: sugar maple leaves below)


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