I admire this gawky and unloved Field Maple – acer campestre – on the Hornsey Road in north London. It couldn’t be further away from the bucolic landscape implied by it’s name.
This one fills a space on a busy main road by a row of local shops soaking up traffic fumes and witnessing round the clock inner city events. It is leant against by drunks, powerfully-jawed dogs are tethered to it, buses brush past it, a cocktail of Special Brew and sticky soft drinks are fed to it’s roots, and hastily opened car doors bump and scrape it’s bark as passengers leap out to pick up a pizza or a pint of milk.
Despite it’s front-line position, this one seems to be thriving, this year’s crop of straggly new growth can clearly be seen in the photo. It’s a tree that seems to be making the most of it’s environment and is taking up an almost defiant posture as a Field Maple would if it were a member of a hedge, it strains towards the light and thickets of branchlets grow out of it’s trunk facing directly in to the road.
A plucky, messy and often overlooked tree that can cope with a lot, the Field Maple is our only native maple.
The street trees and street life of Hornsey Road: