Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Episode 503 (12-16-19): A Cold-weather Celebration of Maple Trees

Click to listen to episode (4:47)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 12-13-19.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of December 16, 2019.  This episode is a revised repeat of an episode from October 2011.

MUSIC – ~9 sec

This week, we feature an instrumental musical selection about a group of trees that are famous for spring sap, summer shade, and fall colors, but which are less recognized for their distinctive wintertime bark, buds, and twigs.  Have a listen to the music for about another 30 seconds, and see if you know this group of trees.  And here’s a hint: their sugary product is a STAPLE on pancakes.

MUSIC - ~30 sec

If you guessed maples, you’re right!  You’ve been listening to part of a medley called “Wind in the Maples/Sugartree Branch,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va., from the 2002 album “Sycamore Rapids.”  “Wind in the Maples” was written particularly for Red Maple, and “Sugartree Branch” refers to Sugar Maples and an approximately two-mile long stream in the St. Mary’s River Wilderness area of Augusta County.  Red Maple and Sugar Maple are two of the eight species of maple native to Virginia.  Besides the eight native species, 16 other maple species occur in the Commonwealth, either cultivated (such as the Japanese Maple) or having escaped from cultivation and become established (such as the Norway Maple).

Collectively, the native maples are found all across Virginia: from cool, shady mountain slopes preferred by Sugar, Striped, and Mountain Maple; to riverside and floodplain habitats preferred by Silver Maple; to the wide range of soil conditions and habitats suitable for Red Maple, found from dry mountain slopes to the Dismal Swamp.  Red Maple is, in fact, the most numerous tree species in Virginia forests, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Forest Service.

Within their various habitats, maples join with many other trees in having significant influences on water resources: improving water quality, modifying flow, and providing food, cover, and shelter for wildlife.

Less productive than in spring, less energetic than in summer, and less colorful than in fall, maples in winter offer a seasonal still-life, with their twigs showing the growth of past years and their buds enclosing the growth-generating tissue of the year to come.

Thanks to Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music.  And in keeping with the slow, still pace of winter during a maple tree’s year, we close with about 15 seconds from the quiet ending of “Wind in the Maples/Sugartree Branch.”

MUSIC – ~16 sec


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode revises and replaces Episode 84, 10-17-11, and the “Water Sounds and Music” segment of Episode 47, 12-10.

Thanks to Lesley Howard, John Peterson, and John Seiler for their help with this episode.

“Wind in the Maples/Sugartree Branch,” from the 2002 album “Sycamore Rapids,” is copyright by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Timothy Seaman is available online at https://timothyseaman.com/en/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Ice on a Sugar Maple on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, December 13, 2019.

Ice on a Red Maple in Blacksburg, Va., December 13, 2019.

Ice on a Japanese Maple on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, December 13, 2019.

A wintertime Sugar Maple on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, December 15, 2019.


Following is a list of the 24 species of maple known from Virginia, either as a native species in Virginia, a native species in North America but not in Virginia, or a non-native species in North America.  North American native species may spread beyond their historically native range, and some non-native species “escape” from cultivation and become established outside of cultivation.  This list is according to the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, “Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheets,” online at http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm, in a search for “maple” conducted 12-12-19.  The list is in alphabetical order by the scientific names of the species (listed in italics).

V = native to Virginia.
NA = native to North America but not Virginia.
NON = non-native to North America.
NON-ES = non-native that is known commonly to escape from cultivation.

Acer buergerianum – Trident Maple – NON
Acer campestre – Hedge Maple – NON-ES
Acer circinatum – Vine Maple – NA
Acer floridanum – Florida Maple – V
Acer ginnala – Amur Maple – NON-ES
Acer glabrum – Rocky Mountain Maple – NA
Acer grandidentatum – Bigtooth Maple – NA
Acer griseum – Paperback Maple – NON
Acer japonicum – Fullmoon Maple – NON
Acer macrophyllum – Bigleaf Maple – NON-ES
Acer miyabei – Miyabe Maple – NON
Acer negundo – Boxelder – V
Acer nigrum – Black Maple – V
Acer palmatum – Japanese Maple – NON
Acer pensylvanicum – Striped Maple – V
Acer platanoides – Norway Maple – NON-ES
Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore Maple – NON-ES
Acer rubrum – Red Maple – V
Acer saccharinum – Silver Maple – V
Acer saccharum – Sugar Maple – V
Acer spicatum – Mountain Maple – V
Acer tataricum – Tatarian Maple – NON
Acer truncatum – Shantung Maple – NON
Acer xfreemanii – Freeman Maple – NON


Used for Audio

T.J. Brandeis, A.J. Hartsell, and C. Brandeis, “Forest of Virginia 2015,” U.S. Forest Service Resource Update FS-129 (4 pages), Asheville, N.C., 2017; available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/54555.  Red Maple was the number-one tree on Virginia forest land in number of individuals over 1 inch DBH (diameter at breast height), with 12 percent of all live trees.

U.S. Forest Service/Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer at Virginia Tech, “Condition of Fish Populations and Habitat in the St. Mary’s River and Selected Tributaries Before and After Limestone Sand Treatment, January 2003, available online (as a PDF) at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/catt/pdf/va/2003_va_catt_report_2.pdf.  This report has scientific information about Sugartree Branch and other trout streams in the St. Mary’s River watershed.

Penn State Cooperative Extension, “Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner,” 11/12/13, online at https://extension.psu.edu/maple-syrup-production-for-the-beginner.

U.S. Forest Service/George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, “Wildernesses,” online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/home/?cid=stelprdb5312424.

Virginia Department of Forestry, “Forest Facts,” online at http://dof.virginia.gov/stateforest/facts/index.htm.

Virginia Department of Forestry, Common Native Trees of Virginia, 2016, available online at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/#ForestEducation.

Virginia Department of Forestry, “2018 State of the Forest,” available online at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/.  The archive of previous “State of the Forest” reports is also available at that Web site.

Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, “Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheets,” online at http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm.

For More Information about Trees or Other Plants in Virginia and Elsewhere

Sanglin Lee and Alan Raflo, “An Introduction to Trees in Virginia and Their Connections to Water,” Virginia Water Resources Research Center, December 2011; available online from the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/an-introduction-to-trees-in-virginia-and-their-connections-to-water/.

U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Plants Data Base,” online at https://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation/Natural Heritage Division, “Invasive Plant Species of Virginia,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/invspinfo.

Virginia Native Plant Society, online at http://vnps.org/.  This organization provides information about native species and natural plant habitats.  Located at 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Unit #2, Boyce, VA 22620; (540) 837-1600.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Plants” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on trees and shrubs.

Ash trees – Episode 376, 7-10-17.
Flora of Virginia – Episode 354, 2-6-17.
Forestry – Episode 160, 5-6-13.
Rhododendrons – Episode 216, 6-2-14.
Sycamore trees – Episode 176, 8-26-13.
Tree buds – Episode 449, 12-3-18.
Tree colors and changes in fall – Episode 285, 10-9-15.
Tree structures for water movement – Episode 285, 10-9-15.
Trees’ human and ecological benefits – Episode 153, 3-18-13.
Witch Hazel trees/shrubs – Episode 238, 10-31-14.


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
K.10 – Changes in natural and human-made things over time.
1.7 – changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.8 – Basic patterns and cycles in nature.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 – life cycles.
4.4 – basic plant anatomy and processes.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 – food webs.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).

Biology Course
BIO.6 – bases for modern classification systems, including structures, biochemistry, and developmental stages.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – natural, human, and capital resources.
3.8 – understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

World Geography Course
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.4 – types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.