The northeastern quadrant of the United States is fortunate to be treated to an annual spectacle... the fluorescent foliage of fall. Many of our tree species here in New England present a glorious display, but as a group, the maples win the prize for the widest range of colors.
You might think we Yankees would all be confident in our ability to distinguish each local maple species from its kin, given that no other place on Earth can match this pageant. But if you can't, there's no need to cower in shame; you just need to watch our latest film, The Magic Maples of New England. All will be made clear. Plus, you can get another take at the autumn finery!
The film features two forest tree experts: Bob Leverett, co-founder of the Native Tree Society and co-author of The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast; and dendrochronologist Neil Pederson, Senior Ecologist at Harvard Forest. Each of New England's native maple species is described in detail.
And now, to set the mood for the film, here is an essay by Bob Leverett about one of his favorite trees, "Magic Maple", which inspired the making of this film.
Robert T. Leverett
Magic Maple is a mature red maple (Acer rubrum) that grows in the northern part of Mohawk Trail State Forest in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Magic stands in a small cove above the Deerfield River, one of the most scenic areas in Massachusetts. Some of the tallest, most statuesque trees in all New England grow in this region.
As we climb uphill from the river, the inviting sounds of the rushing waters put us into a mood of receptivity. We have entered a place that black bear, bobcat, beaver, deer, and even an occasional moose call home. The area around Magic reminds us that not all the East suffers from the impact of daily human activities. Here, nature has reclaimed that which is rightfully hers and is building a monument to herself through a wealth of stately trees.
We ascend, reaching a gently sloping area that served as a sheep pasture in the mid-1800s. We are entering the domain of tall trees growing on an old river terrace, a glacial remnant. A white ash reaches a height of 145.2 feet, as measured by botanist and tree-measurer extraordinaire Jared Lockwood, with one higher on the steep ridge approaching 150 feet. Two white pines approach 160 feet.
Entering this superlative forest, sensitive souls may feel a shift in the energy. It is a feeling that no young forest can inspire.
The steepening contours of the mountain hide spots of exquisite beauty. From a distance, these places can only be imagined. The following springtime image showcases sugar maples and budding oaks.