How did the maple tree adapt to its woodland environment?

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nofret | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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There are many species of maple trees and they have a range through most of United State, Europe, and part of Asia.  Most species of maples are deciduous trees, which means they shed their leaves in fall and are dormant in the winter, thus conserving energy.  The leaves are broad for a large surface area available to collect sunlight energy to be used for photosynthesis.

They have a fibrous root system, which means that they have many small roots.  This allows them to stretch their roots out over a large area in order to gather in enough water and nutrients to support the tree.  They can also produce root sprouts, which is another way for the tree to reproduce in addition to seeds.

Reproduction by root sprouts does not produce the genetic variation that seeds do, but it allows the parent tree to support the growth of the younger tree.  This give the younger tree a better chance at survival.  Most young trees are shade resistant so being in the shadow of the parent tree does not hurt it.

Maple trees flower in the late winter to early spring.  This is a time when not many other things are blooming, so honeybees are especially dependent on them.  This also means that the maple tree attracts a lot of honeybees for pollination.  The seeds have "wings" that are able to catch the wind and spin as they fall.  This allows the many seeds produced by a single maple tree to be spread over great distances, thus increasing the chances that at least some of them will survive.

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