The Incredible, Edible, Big Leaf Maple
[The following is excerpted from the City of Seattle Monthly Tree Newsletter (March)]
As one of the few deciduous trees native to the Pacific Northwest, big leaf maple’s contributions are many – including edibility! Maple syrup? Yes. It takes 60 – 100 gallons of big leaf maple sap to make 1 gallon of tasty and nutritious syrup. The industry is just starting to take off here in Washington, where you can find local maple syrup in some restaurants and bars.
Big leaf maple flowers are edible as well. The yellow-green flowers emerge in March through April. The flowers have a complex sweet / bitter green flavor that is best when they are young and haven’t fully elongated. Try them in salads, stir-fries, wraps, fritters, or as a garnish in soups.
You know what else those flowers are good for? Honey. When the hillsides are lit up with their chartreuse glow, the honeybees are busy collecting the nectar. Maple flower honey is a treat found throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Our wildlife friends love eating big leaf maples too. While not edible for us, the seeds inside the winged fruit are enjoyed by squirrels and birds.
Times are tough for big leaf maples right now. Our hotter, dryer summers are proving to be stressful, leaving them vulnerable to insects and disease, and in the end, decline.
Our big leaf maples give so much. Why not give back by helping them stay healthy.