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Maple Study – Leaves Instead of Seeds

Apple Hill with Barn
Autumn Scene – Sierra Nevada Foothills

Our last study for the Autumn series (More Nature Study with the OHC) was one that took us up the mountain to see maples brilliantly colored against the autumn sky. The Bigleaf maples are ablaze with color right now and so easy to spot since they grow in and among the evergreens of the Sierra Nevada. Our field guide says that Bigleaf maples grow at an elevation of 2,000 – 5,000 feet so we live right at the lower edge of where they naturally occur.

Maple Trees
Perfect spot to stop and observe some Bigleaf Maples

We stopped alongside the roadway to gather a few leaves and take some images. When I opened the car door…Mmmmmm…it smelled like fall. I hope I don’t ever stop remembering to slow down enough to drink in the fragrance of autumn leaves, damp and woodsy.

Maple leaf
Lobed leaves, turning yellow-green

Now to the part that I have to be humble about. When I wrote the Maple Seed Challenge months ago I thought that this would be the time to gather seeds. Turns out after some direct observation and some reading in my tree book….that this may not be the right time for maple keys so now that we know where to find our little grove of maples, we will revisit it in the winter to see if can see any changes.

We decided that we might as well observe and learn more about the leaves of the Bigleaf maple.

Measuring the Maple Leaf
We brought one really big leaf home and measured it…a little less than twelve inches across. Our field guide says that the leaves should be 16-14 inches in length including the stalk so that is in line with what we found. Mr. B decided to start the advanced notebook page with the field guide information but wait on sketching the maple keys until we gather some at a later date.

On another big leaf note….

Catalpa Tree Leaf
How about this gigantic catalpa tree leaf that we found at my mom’s house last weekend? Isn’t it glorious? Amanda took a quick photo of me holding the leaf and I thought you  might get a kick out of seeing it, especially after seeing the maple leaf and thinking THAT was big. My little three year old grand-niece said, “What is that?” I told a it was a really big leaf and she laughed. I miss having little ones around who have lots of questions and everything is new and interesting.

Sigh, that finishes up the autumn challenges for now. This season of nature study went by entirely too fast!

7 thoughts on “Maple Study – Leaves Instead of Seeds

  1. Barb, don’t worry! For your New England readers, now is an excellent time to investigate maple (helicopter) seeds. In fact, we had so many that we dumped a big bucketful from our roof and watched them all flutter to the ground. Great fun!

  2. Valerie,

    Maybe we should do a nature exchange! We could send sequoia cones..and you could send us some maple keys. 🙂

    Sounds like fun!

  3. We live in the north west and we have maple keys. I think it just depends on the type of maple. Some will release their keys in spring and some in fall.

  4. I feel better now. Thanks Valerie and Zonnah. 🙂

  5. Jumping in a little late … here in the Midwest we have some as well. Not a lot, I think it might be slightly late in the fall as they are dry and brittle. But we did find enough to do our study!

  6. My! What very BIG leaves you have! I’m following that fall smell of damp leaves trail you mentioned. It’s been wet in our world. We enjoyed a walk in the rain thanks to the suggestion in your November newsletter. Last of the leaves falling around here.

    Love the photo of the ruler with your leaf. And, the photo of you!

  7. I wish you could see me falling out of my seat laughing right now. We took our whole outdoor field trip along the coast tour with the thought of keeping our eyes out for Maples and seeds. We did find quite a few red maple trees without the pods, but why I’m crying with laughter in my coffee right now, is because we walked along an entire trail of these giants and didn’t know. Even played with the leaves, photographed the leaves, and set out to identify them when we got home. Which we didn’t. Ha ha ha ha ha. Can’t wait to tell my friend Randy we were playing with the leaves we were looking for. Oh. Dear. That’s funny.

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