Some of you may already be familiar with the Maple Syrup History website, but I am sure this will be new news to others.
Maple Syrup History is a smattering of historical accounts, product history, state-based events and turning points, and more – in the author’s own words, “a wide range of interests in all things maple.” Matthew Thomas, an independent researcher with a PhD in Environmental Studies from University of Wisconsin, has been researching, compiling, and writing about maple history for over 20 years.
With so much content to sift through and peruse, I would encourage you to scroll down and keep your eye on the right margin for the Categories section where you can search specific topics. OHIO is on the list, that’s a great place to start!
My eye caught upon this unique woodworking project at a friend’s house over Memorial Day weekend festivities. Eventually my appreciation was replaced by conversation, and I’m happy that my friend was willing to share a photograph of his handiwork with the Ohio Maple Site.
He was inspired to create the art piece by 2 primary literature sources. The first – an article in the academic journal PLOS ONE entitled “Four Centuries of Change in Northeastern United States Forests” – provided most of the tree composition data from 1600 to present at half century increments. The second – a book chapter entitled “New England’s Forest Landscape: Ecological Legacies and Conservation Patterns Shaped by Agrarian History” was authored by researchers at Harvard and a few other universities. This second resource provided data on forest cover percentages for the region over the same time span.
To focus more on the art itself, the height of each overall column represents the percentage of forest cover in the northeastern United States, which reached a low point in the mid-late 19th century. Each individual wooden panel tracks a common tree species or genus through time; from bottom to top: beech, oak, maple, hemlock, birch, pine, chestnut, ash, and fir. Chestnut notably disappears in the jump from 1850 to 1900 as a result of the chestnut blight, and ash will certainly be affected similarly during this time step from 2000 to 2050 due to the emerald ash borer.
But maple, oh maple! Maple has asserted its dominance throughout many portions of the northeastern United States, and maple now has more standing stock volume than any other species group region-wide. And it’s not even close. The reasons and driving factors are diverse, and perhaps someday we’ll write some posts to address the why of broad shifts in tree species composition. But for now, let’s just admire a truly unique and inspired piece of artwork that tells a story we can all appreciate.
Author: Gabriel Karns, Ohio State