Which is the Maple Leaf?

Of the two leaves below can you tell which one is the Maple leaf? Only one of them is a maple .... can you guess what tree species the other leaf is from?

These two leaves where taken from two trees in a city park in Spokane Washington that stand side by side. The leaf on the left is a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) leaf (I put the winged seed in the picture as a hint). The leaf on the right is from a London Plane. As you can see the leaves of these two trees are very similar and quite easy to confuse. Let me give two easy ways to tell these trees apart.

1. You can tell them apart by the structure that holds their seeds. In the case of the Norway Maple the seeds are held in a winged "samara" (seen in the image above by the left leaf). In the case of the London Plane the seeds are located in a ping-pong sized ball (see image below).

2. You can tell them apart by their bark which is very different from each other. The first image below is of the Norway maple bark.

The next image is of the Londan Plane bark on a mature tree that shows the characteristic lumpiness and bulging. The bark peels off in small sheets, which is one of the reasons it does so well in high pollution cities.

Old Grove of Large Leaved Linden (or Lime)

Near the Spanish town of El Escorial and located close the popular attraction called the "Seat of Philip the Second" is an interesting old grove of Large leaved lindens or as they are popularly called in Great Britain "Large leaved limes". This native European tree is a common sight in parks and gardens and has been widely introduced into the United States as an ornamental. This particular old grove of Lindens was quite enchanting, partly due to the shape of the older trees as a result of "pollarding". This is when the branches are cut off every year or every few years providing for firewood but not killing the tree.

You can see in the image above how there are fairly small branches growing up out of a very old and hollowed out trunk. Pollarding often makes the trunks of the tree a good deal more stout than it would have grown if it had been left to form its natural shape.

The image below is of a nearby tree that has never been pollarded and as a result has a much taller and even straight trunk. The bark detail is also visible in this image.

The leaves of the Large leaved linden are simple and somewhat heart shaped. They can measure from 3-6 inches across.

These images were taken near the "Finca El Castañar" (something like "Chestnut grove ranch) which is a bit strange given that the grove is mainly old Lindens. On one side though there are some very old sweet Chestnut trees as well.