Field Maple

(Acer campestre) An old Alsatian legend tells that bats possessed the power of rendering the eggs of storks infertile. So the stork put some branches of maple in its nest, so that every intruding bat was frightened away (Dyer. 1889). Bate's Bush was an old maple at the crossroads at Osebury Rock, in Worcestershire. It was said to be derived from the stake driven through the body of a man named Bate, a suicide buried there (Allies).

Long life would be conferred on children who were passed through the branches of a maple (Friend. 1883). One tree in West Grinstead Park, in Sussex, was in constant use for this purpose, and there was a great outcry when the landlord intended to have the tree felled. Specifically, though, the act of passing children through the branches was to cure them of rickets, or the effect of the evil eye (Thompson. 1897) (cf ASH, for example). Another odd belief, from northern France, was that the leaves became red in the autumn by the action of the fairy that lives in the tree (Sebillot).

It is said that maple leaves, layered with stored apples, carrots and potatoes, have a noticeable preservative effect (M Baker. 1978). Maplin-tree is a name given in Gloucestershire for this tree (Grigson. 1955), and this is a name Alfred Williams also noted as Maypole-ing tree, in some versions of the the wassail song:

Wassail, wassail, all over the town, Our toast is white and our ale is brown, Our bowl is made of a maplin tree, And so is good beer of the best barley.

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