Big Leaf Maples
The Big Leaf Maple has been known as the ‘paddle tree’ to the Lakwungen First Nations people of Vancouver because its wood is used to make paddles, oars and also spindle wheels.
Who knew? — I didn’t until recently, though I’ve walked past and marveled at the very large leaves for a long time. The trees are abundant in the woods on a trail near my house. The leaves can reach up to a foot across (!) and the largest known tree of this species is 8 feet in diameter.
Now that I know about the ‘paddle tree’, why does that information seem so important? Why do I now feel differently about that tree, and in fact all the woods nearby?
As a long-time boater and owner of two wooden kayak paddles, there now seems to be a direct connection between what I’ve done for so long and those woods. And what other connections do I have to those woods, waiting to be discovered?
Helping us understand those profound connections is what thousands of nature organizations do every day. Please use the ‘Find’ tabs on this site to explore places and events for yourself. And I hope that leads you to your own ‘paddle tree’ type connections in nature!