What: Red Maple (Acer Saccharum)
Ecological notes: I took the above photographs this afternoon around 1 pm in the woods at Shelburne Pond. Although I am not 100% positive I believe the buds to be a Sugar Maple (although I had previously thought Red Maple). The branching is opposite and I found a decent amount of maple leaves blanketing the ground. It was a gloomy day today and I found my eyes shifting to the tiny pops of color in the woods, a reminder that bloom is just around the corner. This particular tree was very young and I studied the buds carefully noticing the beautiful red and green hues. I am amazed how long I have gone in and out forests without really noticing the amazing beauty of one single bud. It really captures all of the feelings of shifting seasons from winter to spring.
Where: Forest at Shelburne Pond
Other notes: Sugar maple is a native species to hardwood forests of North America. It is beautiful during fall foliage and may be best known for . It is common among most types of soils (besides sand) and is the most shade tolerant of large deciduous trees. On young trees, the twigs like the one I have photographed above, are a reddish brown color. As the tree gets older its bark becomes darker and more rough in texture. The fruit of this tree is called a samara, which is an important food source for birds, squirrels, and other rodents. The Sugar Maple is well known for its maple sugar sap which provides us with delicious maple syrup. The earliest written accounts of maple sugaring were made in early 1600s by European explorers who observed Native Americans gathering maple sap. Its bark is often used for furniture and musical instruments like the guitar and violin.