The big silver maple has shed her seeds and is now crowned in green leaves. As I pulled the feed cart to the barn, I noticed that the carpet of samaras (underfoot everywhere in this area beneath the big maple) sported a few that seemed to be sticking straight up out of the ground. I had to take a closer look, right?
When I did, I saw that these were seeds that had actually germinated: the “helicopter” was upright because the seed part had rooted and sprouted! I’ve seen the samaras, season after season, as well as the seedlings afterward, but this was actually the first time I’d seen the seed sprouting process. And it was cool.
Big mama maple is obviously quite fecund, as is the soil – the two, together, have created conditions that will see hundreds of seedlings sprout. Not all will survive, but many will. We’ve tried transplanting many, often without great success (I think because we transplanted into grassy areas that simply smothered the young trees). All along fence lines, near coops, and in various other random places, the young seedlings have survived and thrived.
We’ll be monitoring the seedlings and thinning them later in the year. Over the next few months, the farm will be an incubator for these lovely and useful trees. With enough mature maples, perhaps, one day, we’ll be able to tap some and make our own syrup. Even before they reach that point, though, we’ll be thankful for the shade their canopies provide, the shelter they create for birds, and the pigs will enjoy the tasty leaves on the branches we trim for them.