Maple-Tree, or Acer, L. a genus of plants, comprising twenty species, of which the following are the principal, viz.
The campestris, or Common Maple, which is a native of Britain, grows in thickets and hedges, and flowers in the month of June. - The wood of this species is much used by turners, being far superior to that of the beech. When it abounds with knots, it is greatly esteemed by joiners, for the purpose of inlaying. On account of its lightness, maple-wood is also frequently employed for musical instruments : being remarkably white, it was formerly converted into tables, and other articles of domestic furniture, particularly cups ; which last may be turned so thin, as to transmit light. But, at present, this tree is principally planted for hedges, and for underwood; because it is of quick growth, and affords excellent fuel.—According to Dambourney, a decoction of the bark of the common maple, imparts to wool, prepared in a solution of bismuth, a reddish-brown colour similar to that obtained from woad.
2. The Pseudo-platanus. See Sycamore-tree.
3. The Saccharinum, or Sugar-Maple, which is a large, beautiful exotic tree, frequently growing to the height of from 40 to 60 feet, and 2 feet in diameter. Its flowers appear early in the spring, and are succeeded by long winged seeds, which sometimes ripen in England. This species is cultivated to a very considerable extent in North America, for the sake of its vinous juice, which flows, on making incisions in the tree, for several weeks in the spring, and is by evaporation reduced to the consistence of a brownish saccharine substance, known under the name of Maple-sugar. Besides, the sap of this, tree affords an excellent vinegar, and a very agreeable kind of me-lasses which Dr. Rush thinks, may be converted into a wholesome summer-beer.—It is remarkable, that the juice exuding from this tree is sweeter and richer, in proportion to the greater or less quantity of snow fallen during the winter ; and that it will flow, even during the latter season, when it is wounded sufficiently deep, and on its southern aspect.—As this valuable tree grows speedily ; endures the coldest climates ; and (if not drained of its juice), furnishes not only good timber, but also excellent wood for turnery and cabinet-ware, which is not liable to the depredations of the worm, its culture in Britain cannot be too strongly recommended.