For Canadian readers, Happy Canada Day! It is perhaps coincidental that the Canadian icon, the maple leaf, represents a genus of plants with members from nearly every part of the world–a fitting symbol for a nation of diversity and multiculturalism. As I alluded to last month, UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research is one of the best places in Canada to see maples, with one hundred different species and cultivars.
Snapped in October 2003, this photograph shows the autumn colours of a fallen leaf of bigtooth maple in the alpine garden. Maple taxonomists have sometimes disagreed about the relationship of this southwestern North American maple to the well-known Acer saccharum (sugar maple) of eastern North America. In fact, UBC currently has this plant accessioned and labelled as Acer saccharum subsp. grandidentatum, reflecting a closer relationship between bigtooth maple and sugar maple than is currently accepted by places such as the USDA, so we’re going to have to review the literature and the science behind the names (and either change the label or change the title of this Photo of the Day entry!).
You can read more about making sugar from sugar maples from the industrial processes via the Cornell Sugar Maple Research and Extension Program.
Lastly, in Botany Photo of the Day news, the journal Science has written a small feature about the site in its “NetWatch” section (see it as it appears in print via PDF). By happy coincidence, it is in Science‘s well-publicized 125th anniversary issue!