"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Monday, 16 February 2009

Leaf of the Day:Samara of the Southern Red Maple

Today, to get back to painting, a study of one of the small samaras of the Southern Red Maple Acer rubrum v trilobum, native to Eastern United States and growing at Leu down by the lake overlook, with a small companion Sugar Maple, Acer saccarum ssp Foridanum nearby. There were bunches of these pretty winged seeds all over the ground a couple of weeks ago and I think, had I painted this one immediately, the colours would have been brighter. It's very small, only 2.5 inches from the top of the wing to the bottom of the stem
This particular variety is distinguished from the regular Acer rubrum by its smaller and 3 lobed rather than 5 lobed leaves, which generally turn yellow rather than red in the autumn.


Trilobum leaves


Staminate, Male Flowers
These super photos by Will Cook, from the excellent reference page at "Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina" site here

These beautiful small flowers are also much loved by bees in the spring, and the more I learn about bees, the more concerned I am about them, and the need to plant and encourage bee friendly plants.

And the Red Maple is not only beautiful but useful. The early European settlers learnt how to utilise the maples from the native Indians and the Red Maple was used amongst other things to make ink and dye stuffs. Peter Kalm the student of Linneus wrote of the Red Maple in 1750, "Out of its wood they make plates, spinning wheels, spools, feet for chairs and beds and many other kinds of turnery. With the bark they dye both worsted and linen, giving it a dark blue color."

Despite the icy temperatures of last week we haven't seen snow here but those in northern climes must welcome the splash of colour from this lovely tree.
Here is a description from Donald Culross Peattie's "Trees of Eastern and Central North America" again.
" All seasons of the year the Red Maple has something red about it. In winter the buds are red, growing a brilliant scarlet as winter ends, the snow begins to creep away and the ponds to brim with chill water and trilling frog music. So bright in fact that if one takes an airplane flight anywhere across the immense natural range of this tree one can pick out the red Maples by the promise of spring in their tops, for no other tree quite equals them at this season in quality or intensity of colour. "

Ah... the promise of spring, doesn't that lift your spirits? We already have more vocal birds here and yes, the frogs are getting noisier too..

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Red Maple Samara



Size, 3.5 ". Watercolour on Arches HP

5 comments:

Tatyana said...

This post is very informative, and pictures are nice. Thanks!

india said...

delighted to have discovered you...and have linked to your blog from mine so i can visit easily...
cheerio
india

Susan Tomlinson said...

Oh, I love it! So simple and elegant, like the seed itself.

John said...

Red maple in bloom! I can hardly wait, but here in Southern New England the buds are still tight and with dull coloration.

It won't be long...
Spring is coming soon!

sharp green pencil said...

Thankyou so much all, I was torn between drawing a whole bunch but common sense and lack of time made the decision to do just one! I am going to try to find some flowers on my next trip out but think they may be over now ...
John, I know its cold up there but I have been enjoying your snowy photos and fluffed up birds so much !!