I’ve spent many years researching and writing about the uses people make of plants
and what plants mean to the people who use them.

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Wild Service Tree © Aaron Parker

Field Maple - Acer campestre  Photo: © Anna Lewington

The brilliant yellow of field maple leaves is an uplifting sight on a grey, late Autumn day and particularly striking when the sun is shining.

A tree of field margins (as its Latin epithet campestre suggests) and woodland edges, a mature field maple, with its ridged and fissured trunk and dense, domed crown of five-lobed leaves is, as Richard Mabey has so perfectly described it: 'a picture of elegance and compact strength'.*

Its hard, strong and fine-grained wood has a long history of use for carved or turned objects and is particularly associated with musical instruments, especially harps, as evidenced by archaeological discoveries dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, and the ornamental drinking bowls known as mazers that were in use in the Medieval period in England. John Evelyn noted in the 1664 edition of his grand treatise on British trees 'Sylva': 'the Timber is far superiour to Beech for all uses of the Turner, who seeks it for Dishes, Trays, Trenchers etc as the Joyner for Tables, Inlayings, and for the delicateness of the grain'.

Still valued for these purposes today, the field maple is also an important habitat and food source for numerous wildlife species including insects, moths, small mammals and birds.

* R. Mabey, Flora Britannica, Chatto & Windus, 1997, p264
See also: F. Hageneder, The Spirit of Trees, The Continuum International Publishing Inc, 2000, pp 146-148
J. Evelyn, Sylva, 1664
Woodland Trust: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/field-maple/

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