Throughout its lifespan the maple tree provides nourishment to a large variety of animals, insects, birds and humans. These animals and insects eat every part of the tree, from seeds and leaves to the bark and internal saps.
Rodents such as mice and squirrels, wild turkey, wood ducks and finches snack on seeds of the maple tree. European earthworms eat the wing-like leafy material attached to the seed, leaving the seed itself. Humans eat hulled green maple seeds raw or boil or dry the seeds before adding them to salads.
While deer prefer the bark of fir and cedar trees, they occasionally eat the bark and twigs of several species, including the silver maple, sugar maple and cinnamon bark. Beavers also eat the bark.
Native American Indians and early colonial settlers ate the sap, a treat that still finds its way into American cooking. In the year 2000 alone, maple syrup producers in the state of Vermont sold an estimated 460,000 gallons of maple syrup, according to Vermontmaple.org.
Caterpillars, European gypsy moths and leaf hoppers dine on maple trees leaves. Horses consume leaves, but veterinarian Charlotte Means warns that toxins in maple leaves can cause acute hemolytic anemia, leading to the horse's death.
- State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry: Eastern Chipmunk
- Victoria Rhododendron Society: Germinating Maple Seeds
- University of Connecticut: Deer and Plants They May or May Not Eat, Maybe!
- Native Tree Society: Earthworms and maple seeds
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Silver Maple
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
- What Do Woodland Animals Eat?
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