Herb: Field Maple
Latin name: Acer campestre
Family: Aceraceae (Maple Family)
Medicinal use of Field Maple:The bark is astringent and slightly anticholesterolemic. A decoction has been used to bathe sore eyes. The bark should be sun-dried and then stored in a dry place until required.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Open deciduous woods, hedgerows and scrub, usually on basic soils.
Edible parts of Field Maple:The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.
Other uses of the herb:The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. A fast growing plant and bearing clipping well, it makes an excellent clipped hedge and can also be used as part of a native wildlife hedge where it is only trimmed every 3 - 4 years. It has also been used in topiary. Wood - fine-grained, tough, elastic, hard to split, takes a high polish and is seldom attacked by insects. Trees are seldom large enough to supply much usable timber, but when available it is much valued by cabinet makers. It is also used for cups bowls etc. The wood of the roots is often knotted and is valued for small objects of cabinet work. The wood is an excellent fuel. A charcoal made from the wood is a good fuel.
Propagation of Field Maple:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8°C. It can be slow to germinate. The seed can be harvested "green" (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
Cultivation of the herb:Open deciduous woods, hedgerows and scrub, usually on basic soils.
Known hazards of Acer campestre:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.