There are over a 100 different species of maple, some hard, some soft, some striped. Some maples have bright autumn foliage, and many countries have leaf-watching traditions. In Japan and Korea, the changing color of maples in the autumn is very famous. In New England, it’s the sugar maples to watch out for.
Sugar maples are also tapped to make maple syrup and candy. These trees produces between 5-60 gallons of sap every year. Tapping its sap doesn’t hurt the tree at all. It takes about 40 liters of sap to make a liter of syrup. In parts of Vermont, some old timers can tell which county a jug of syrup came from by taste. They can also tell whether the trees were in a valley or on a hillside facing south, and whether the trees were young or old.
Native Americans discovered maple syrup. One Iroquois myth tells of a youth who discovered maple sugar by watching a red squirrel. Various tribes of the Eastern woodlands have a myth that the Creator filled the trees with syrup. Another story tells how a trickster slowed the maple’s flow. He wanted the people to stop lying under the trees with their mouths wide open. He said the syrup would only flow in late winter when food is scarce, so they should return to farming, fishing and hunting.
Striped maple, or “whistlewood,” has bark that peels easily and was used to make whistles. A Moldavian folk tale from the old world tells the story of a King’s daughter, who fell in love with a shepherd. She was turned into a maple tree through misfortune. When her lover made a flute out of the young maple shoot, it sang out with her voice. Another nickname for maple, “moosewood,” comes from its popularity with moose that eat young shoots.
Maple is the state tree of New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
* * *
Believed to bring the wearer: abundance, balance, creativity, divination, grounding, longevity, love, money, transformation, wisdom, revolution, rebirth, healing, beauty, art
Other associations: appreciating the beauty of the seasons, attracting love, constant movement and change, provisions, communication
Spirit animals: deer, horned owl, moose, rabbit