Maple. Kappale teoksesta: A Description And History of Vegetable Substances, used in The Arts, and in Domestic Economy. (1830)
The Library of Entertaining Knowledge.
A Description And History of Vegetable Substances, used in The Arts, and in Domestic Economy.
Timber Trees: Fruits.
Illustrated with wood engravings.
London: Charles Knight, Pall Mall East.
Longlamn, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, Paternoster-Row; Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh; Robertson & Atkinson, Glasgow; Wakeman, Dublin; Willmer, Liverpool; Baines & Co., Leeds; And G. & C. Carvill, New York.
London: Printed by William Clowes. Samford-street.
Vegetable Substances, Part I. Timber Trees. Chapter V. Birch, Alder, Maple, Lime, Horsechesnut, Poplar, Willow / Birch and Alder (Betula)
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Of the Maple (Acer) there are about thirty-six species, natives of various countries. Six are indigenous to Europe, about twelve to America, and the remainder to various parts of Asia. Most of them are deciduous trees, but one is an evergreen shrub. It will be necessary to notice only two - the Great Maple, or Mock-plane (Acer pseudo-platanus) ; and the American Sugar Maple (Acer saccharinum) - the first on account of its timber, and the last on account of its sap.
The Great Maple, called also the sycamore and the plane-tree, is hardy ; stands the salt spray of the sea better than most trees ; grows rapidly, and to a great height. The timber is very close and compact, easily cut; and not liable either to splinter or to warp. Sometimes it is of uniform colour and a sometimes it is
very beautifully curled and mottled. In the latter state, as it takes a. fine polish, and bears varnishing well, it is much used for certain parts of musical instruments. Maple contains none, of those hard particles which are injurious to tools, and is therefore employed for cutting-boards; and not being apt to warp, either with variations of heat or of moisture, it is an eligible material for saddle-trees, wooden dishes, founders' patterns, and many other articles both of furniture and of machinery. Before the general introduction of pottery ware, it was the common material for bowls and platters of all sorts ; and many are still made of it. As the juice of the maple, both in the leaves and in the tree, is sweet, it attracts numbers of insects. At certain seasons, the wild bees and wasps may be seen about it in crowds ; and if the timber be placed so that insects are allowed to
settle upon it, it is speedily attacked by the worm. When kept dry, and free from this attack, it will last a considerable time ; but, exposed to humidity, it is of one of the most perishable trees.
The maple forms a very pleasing shade, from the largeness of its leaves ; but the twisting of its branches is injurious to its picturesque effect. The constant excoriation of its bark produces a variety of hues, which give colour to any landscape in which the tree is introduced.
The sugar maple grows plentifully in the United States ; and from the sap of it the inhabitants make a considerable quantity of sugar, which, though inferior both in the grain and in strength to that which is produced by the cane, granulates better than that of the beet-root, or any other vegetable, the cane excepted. The sugar-maple is a smaller tree than the maple of this country; and it is not much in repute as timber, although from its abundance it is a good deal used in America,—the wood, for domestic
purposes, and the bark, as a blue dye, and as an ingredient in the manufacture of ink.
February, March, or April, according to the state of the season, is the time when the maple is tapped for the preparation of sugar. A perforation is made by an auger, about two inches into the tree, slanting upwards ; into this a cane or wooden pipe is inserted, and a vessel placed to receive the sap. The quantity afforded by a tree varies both with the tree and the season ; the most favourable season being when there is the greatest difference between the heat of the day and that of the night. From two to three gallons may be about the daily average afforded by a single tree ; but some trees have yielded more than twenty gallons in a day, and others not above a pint. Therocess by which maple juice is boiled and clarified sugar, does not differ materially from that used for cane juice in the West Indies. The juice should be as recently drawn as possible ; for if it stand more than twenty-four hours, it is apt to undergo the vinous and the acetous fermentation ; by which processes, the saccharine quality of the juice being destroyed, sugar can no longer be extracted. From the quantity of saccharine matter in the juice of this maple, there is no doubt that it could be fermented into wine, and that a spirit could be distilled from it. There is saccharine matter in the sap of the common maple, but it does not granulate well, and would not repay the expense of extraction.