Field Maple Tree Information
Latin: Acer campestre
Native words: Old Irish () Scots Gaelic () Old English (mapuldur) Welsh (masarnen lleiaf) eastern Celtic ()
Height when mature: 6-12m 20-40 ft
Height after 10 years: 5-6m (16-20ft)
Field Maple botanical description:
A small British native, field maple is most often found in hedgerows and on the edge of woods. Its native distribution is on limestone chalk or other calcareous soils, but is widely planted as an amenity tree. The flower clusters stand erect appearing with the leaves which is a good distinguishing feature (sycamore’s hang under the leaf) The leaves are small (half the size of sycamore) with 5 blunt lobes. In autumn they fade to a golden hue. The bark is rough and brown, usually corky and ridged when older. Field Maple is unusual in that its outer branches often become ridged as well as on the main trunk. Like most Acers such as Sycamore, Field Maple produces winged seed pods which spin off in autumn like autogyros. However, these pods are held horizontally on the tree and are directly opposed to one another, unlike Sycamore where they hang down at an angle. Field Maple develops small brown buds in winter, unlike sycamores green buds.
Field Maple natural history and ancient wisdom:
Before the arrival of Sycamore in England, Field Maple wood was prized for carved work such as bowls. It appears very little in our history having been mainly used as a hedging tree. A glimpse of this appears in a charter of 901 AD for Hurstborne Priors in Hampshire where the boundary was set as “ along the road to the pollard oak….from there along the road to where it adjoins the wood…by the little hedge along the spinney… along he hedge to the old maple tree” Occasionally such as a Hatfield Forest in Hertfordshire, old pollarded maples can be seen.
Field Maple place names:
Mablethorpe (Lincolnshire) Mappleton (Derbyshire) settlement where maples grow, Mappowder (Dorset) ‘maple’ Mappleborough (Warwickshire) ‘maple hill’.
Field Maple wildlife rating:
Field Maple is a good host species for mosses and lichens.
Field Maple good points/ bad points:
Probably best used as a hedging plant as it clips well. It grows slowly after the first few years, and takes 50 or so to reach maturity; this can be a good point in a garden!