Maple Hall Namesake: The Maple Tree
Maple is a genus of trees or shrubs. There are approximately 125 species of Maple, most of which are native to Asia, but several species also occur in Europe, northern Africa, and North America.
North America is the native home to both Hard (Sugar Maple, Black Maple) and Soft (Red Maple, Swamp Maple, Vine Maple) varieties, although many other varieties have been imported for centuries and now seem to be part of the natural landscape. A cold weather tree favoring a more northerly climate, at maturity a Maple tree can be between 30 and 130 feet tall.
Most Maples have bright fall foliage and are the focus of leaf-watching traditions. In Japan, the custom of viewing the changing color of maples in the autumn is called "momijigari". In Korea, it is called "Danpung-Nori." In particular, the colors of the Red Maple are a major contributor to the seasonal landscape in New England while the Vine Maple draws tourists in Washington, Oregon and northern California.
The Maple tree has a variety of uses, but it seems most known for syrup. The Sugar Maple is tapped for its sap, the source of maple syrup. It can take 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup and a single Sugar Maple tree produces 12 gallons of sap a year.
Maple wood is also popular for use in flooring, furniture, cabinetry, toy making, etc. Native Americans crafted their spears from Maple trees and, until the turn of the century, the heels of women's shoes were made from Maple. Dried wood is often used for the smoking of food.
In the United States, the Hard Maple has been adopted by New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Red Maple was adopted by Rhode Island. The flag of Canada depicts a stylized maple leaf and is a prominent national symbol.