Big Leaf Maple
The tree that lives up to its name!
The leaves of the Big Leaf Maple really are big. They can grow up to 30cm wide – nearly twice as big as your outstretched hand – and turn a spectacular yellowy gold in the autumn.
This tree is quite unusual in Britain. It’s also known as the Oregon Maple, and originally comes from the Pacific coast areas of north west America, growing mainly between Canada’s Vancouver Island and California.
Back home they can grow up to 50 metres tall – that’s about the same height as Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square. The ones in Brompton Cemetery aren’t quite as big as that, despite being over 100 years old. They’re beginning to decay, but that’s great for the cemetery’s wildlife. Look out for insects and bird’s nests tucked in the bark’s cracks and crevices.
The sap of the Big Leaf Maple is sometimes used to make maple syrup, and the wood is popular in America as veneer for furniture and musical instruments. It’s also known as the ‘paddle tree’ by the First Nation people of Vancouver Island, who use it to make paddles and spindles.