• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Jay Angler
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
  • Saana Jalimauchi
  • Jeremy VanGelder
  • Ulla Bisgaard

Medicinal Trees: Acer, The Maples

author & pollinator
Posts: 1131
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Medicinal Trees: Acer, The Maples

At least thirty Maples are used medicinally: Acer acuminatum, Acer argutum, Acer caesium, Acer campestre - Field Maple, Acer carpinifolium - Hornbeam Maple, Acer circinatum - Vine Maple, Acer crataegifolium - Hawthorn-Leaved Maple, Acer distylum, Acer ginnala - Amur Maple, Acer glabrum - Rock Maple, Acer interius - Box Elder, Acer macrophyllum - Oregon Maple, Acer mono Synonym: Acer pictum, Acer negundo - Box Elder, Acer oblongum, Acer palmatum - Japanese Maple, Acer pensylvanicum – Moosewood, Acer platanoides - Norway Maple, Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore, Acer rubrum - Red Maple, Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple, Acer saccharum - Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum grandidentatum - Big-Tooth Maple, Acer saccharum nigrum - Black Maple, Acer spicatum - Mountain Maple, Acer sterculiaceum, Acer tataricum - Tatarian Maple, Acer ukurunduense caudatum

Eleven varieties of Maple grow in my region: Acer floridanum (Southern Sugar Maple), Acer leucoderme (Chalk Maple), Acer negundo var. negundo (Eastern Boxelder, Ash-leaved Maple), Acer negundo var. texanum (Texas Boxelder, Ash-leaved Maple), Acer nigrum (Black Maple), Acer pensylvanicum (Striped Maple), Acer rubrum var. rubrum (Red Maple), Acer rubrum var. trilobum (Carolina Red Maple), Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple), Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple), Acer spicatum (Mountain Maple)

Naturalized are: Acer ginnala (Amur Maple), Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) and Acer platanoides (Norway Maple)

An infusion of the bark of the Maples, especially the Red Maple, Acer Rubrum, is used for its astringent properties. It has traditionally been used for treating sore eyes. It has also been used to help ease cramps and as a remedy in cases of dysentery or severe diarrhea. It may also be useful externally, to tread bruises, swellings and skin inflammations.

A charcoal made from the Vine Maple was used in the treatment of polio. A tea made from the wood and bark of Rock Maple is said to be effective against nausea.

The Moosewood, Acer Pensylvanicum, has the longest and most documented history of use. It has been found effective for a number of ailments. Generally, a tea is made of the inner bark. This tea is useful for coughs, cold, bronchitis and kidney infections. As a wash, it has been used for swellings.

The Sugar Maple is said to be good used as a tonic tea, diuretic and expectorant. It is said to cleanse the liver and kidneys. It is also recommended as a blood cleanser and expectorant for clearing congestion of the lungs.

The Mountain Maple has a long history of use as a poultice for wounds. It is also said to help stop internal hemorrhages, taken as a tea.

Overall, the chief value of the Maple (beyond firewood and furniture) is its sugar. These trees (along with several others) may be tapped in early spring to collect the sap as it rises. This sap may be fermented and turned into a delicious and healthful maple wine or beer. To this, birch twigs, spruce tips, sassafras roots etc may be added for vitamins and as a “spring tonic”. Most often though, the sap is cooked down, unfermented, into syrup or sugar. Along with honey, Maple Syrup is likely the most pure and healthful of sweeteners. The sap is rich in minerals. It may help regulate blood sugar, is immune-supportive, anti-inflammatory and is good for gastric ulcers.

Maple nuts are also of interest. Although small, they are very nutritious and quite tasty. No breeding has been done for nut production. But, if you are diligent, you may find a big, old Maple tree that produces many pounds of lentil sized maple nuts each fall. They can be eaten like sunflower seeds. The spring leaves of several varieties, especially Japanese Maple, are a tasty spring snack when small and tender. They are often used as an edible garnish in higher end Asian restaurants.

Gerard stated in his Herbal tells us :

What use the Maple hath in medicine we find nothing written of the Grecians, but Pliny in his 14th book, 8th chapter affirmeth, that the root pounded and applied, is a singular remedy for the pain of the liver. Serenus Sammonicus writeth, that it is drunk with wine against the pains of the side:

Si latus immeritum morbo tentatur acuto,

Accensum tinges lapidem stridentibus undis.

Hinc bibis: aut Aceris radicem tundis, & una

Cum vino capis: hoc præsens medicamen habetur.

Thy harmless side if sharp disease invade,

In hissing water quench a heated stone: This drink.

Or Maple root in powder made,

Take off in wine, a present med'cine known.

Culpepper wrote:

It is under the dominion of Jupiter. The decoction either of the leaves or bark, must needs strengthen the liver much, and so you shall find it to do, if you use it. It is excellently good to open obstructions both of the liver and spleen, and eases pains of the sides thence proceeding.

An Irish Herbal states:

The roots pounded in wine and drunk are beneficial for the pains in the side.

Plants for A Future tells us:

Medicinal use of Sugar Maple: A tea made from the inner bark is a blood tonic, diuretic and expectorant. It has been used in the treatment of coughs, diarrhoea etc. A compound infusion of the bark has been used as drops in treating blindness. The sap has been used for treating sore eyes. The inner bark has been used as an expectorant and cough remedy. Maple syrup is used in cough syrups and is also said to be a liver tonic and kidney cleanser.

The Rodale Herb Book states, “ .. there is considerable evidence of the Indians using and extract of the bark of several sorts of the maples for sore eyes.”

Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers tells us:

Indigenous cultures have traditionally used maple (sap and bark) for skin conditions such as hives and stubborn wounds, as a wash, a decoction for kidney trouble, as a cough remedy, as a diuretic, for cramping, as a blood purifier, as a tonic and as an astringent for bleeding. Oddly, in spite of the pervasiveness and importance of this tree, there is less information on its medicinal use than any other American herb I know of.

Peterson Field Guides Eastern and Central Medicinal Plants states:

Boxelder: American Indians use the inner bark tea as in an emedic inducing vomiting. Sap boiled down as sugar source.

Striped Maple: American Indians used inner bark tea for colds, coughs, bronchitis, kidney infections, gonorrhea, spitting of blood; wash used for swollen limbs. Inner bark tea was used as a wash for paralysis. Historically, bark tea was used as a folk remedy for skin eruptions, taken internally and applied as an external wash. Leaf and twig tea used both to allay or induce nausea, and induce vomiting, depending on dosage.

Sugar Maple: American Indians used inner bark tea for coughs, diarrhea; diuretic, expectorant, blood purifier. Maple syrup said to be a liver tonic and kidney cleanser and used in cough syrup. During the Maple sap gathering process in spring, New Englanders drank the sap collected in buckets has a spring tonic.

Maple may not be our most medicinal tree, but it is nutritious and useful. A few trees could make enough Maple wine/beer, whether distilled or not, for all the tinctures and herbalist would need. Therefore, it should not be overlooked, as herbal beers and wines, as well as tinctures, are often or most effective means of preserving and delivering medicinal herbs.

This article is an excerpt from The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide:

The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide

Author: Judson Carroll.  Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His weekly articles may be read at http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/

His weekly podcast may be heard at: www.spreaker.com/show/southern-appalachian-herbs

He offers free, weekly herb classes: https://rumble.com/c/c-618325

His New Book is The Encyclopedia of Bitter Medicinal Herbs:

Read about The Encyclopedia of Bitter Medicinal Herbs

Available for purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B09V3WCJM5

His other works include:
Christian Medicine, History and Practice: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/01/christian-herbal-medicine-history-and.html

Available for purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B09P7RNCTB
Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People by Judson Carroll

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books

Look Up: The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/06/paypal-safer-easier-way-to-pay-online.html

The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/05/announcing-new-book-herbs-and-weeds-of.html


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
This will take every ounce of my mental strength! All for a tiny ad:
We need your help - Permies server fundraiser
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic