Interview with George Osowski
Did you know that humans can eat several parts of the maple tree? We usually associate maple trees with sweet maple syrup but we can also eat the leaves, bark, and seeds! George Osowski from the Atlantic Wildlife Institute was on CBC Radio discussing the edible qualities of maple trees (here). I was surprised to learn how much of this tree can actually be eaten!
The Edible Parts of Maple Trees
- The young spring leaves of maple are edible. You can eat them raw or cooked. Osowski says that they have a slight maple flavour to them that can differ from tree to tree.
- You know those little ‘helicopters’? They are called samara fruit. You can peel away the outside layer and eat the tiny seeds inside either raw or roasted. Soaking them in water first will take away some of the bitter taste. Osowski recommends roasting them with a little salt and oil.
- The cambium layer of the bark is also edible. You can pound it into flour and cook with it. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Algonquin peoples used the bark to make bread and as a soup thickener. According to Robbie Anderman, they also used the inner bark to make a tea for treating coughs, menstrual cramps, and measles.
- Maple sap can be gathered from all types of maple trees, but the best is the sugar maple. Maple syrup contains several important minerals like manganese, zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Food for Animals
The maple tree is also an important diet staple for many animals including white-tailed deer, hare, squirrels, moose, and porcupines. Squirrels tap the trees by nibbling on the end of branches. Then they lick up sap.