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The biggest sugar maple.

This ancient New Englander maintains its venerable demeanor despite bugs, lightning, and "roadkill."

"Stick to the maple and so long as the maple forests stand, suffer not your cup to be sweetened by the blood of slaves!" Thus did an 1844 Vermont almanac entreat its readers to boycott West Indies white sugar, made by slaves, in favor of maple sugar created by the hands of New England farmers.

For 200 years America's primary sweetener had come from the sugar maple, imported cane sugar being too costly. Early colonists learned to make maple sugar from the American Natives, who used birchbark buckets and hollowed out sumac twigs to collect the sap. Lacking containers that would withstand fire, the Indians condensed the sap to syrup or sugar by adding heated rocks or letting the water separate by freezing overnight.

Today the maple-syrup industry depends on people who, like myself, wouldn't dream of using anything else. Under normal conditions, a good sugar maple yields up to 40 gallons of watery sap, or about one gallon of syrup or eight pounds of sugar each season. But in 1988 the nightmare of a future with only the imitation variety to pour on one's pancakes loomed large. An outbreak of the pear thrips caused the defoliation of a half million acres of maple forest in Vermont. This introduced pest, not much bigger than a comma on this page, bores into the buds where the tender, folded leaves are vulnerable. Fortunately, the outbreak proved to be an erratic occurrence, but the threat remains, especially if drought or some other stress is added.
COMMON NAME Sugar maple
SCIENTIFIC NAME Acer saccharum
NOMINATORS William Linke & Glenn Dreyer
OWNER CT Dept. of Transportation or
 Sheraton Motor Inn
 (tree is in rock wall fence)
HEIGHT 93 ft.

The champion sugar maple escaped the 1988 thrips attack, only to be damaged by lightning at about the same time. Already weakened from root damage caused by nearby road construction, the old champ's days are probably numbered. Until then, may its sap run long and sweet.

The National Registry of Big Trees is sponsored by the Davey Tree Expert Company.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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