The Bigtooth Maples for Boerne program continues, thanks to a Cibolo Preserve grant and the local community’s dedication to planting and caring for the native maples. The Boerne Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) reintroduced the Bigtooth “Lost” maple to Boerne. These native maples, Acer grandidentatum, are beautiful, drought tolerant and, in recent history, uncommon in Boerne. Old-timers recall Bigtooth maples along Cibolo Creek within Kendall County. Overpopulation of deer, development, and changing climate have all contributed to it’s decline. To help bring back this native treasure, Boerne NPSOT embarked on a program to give free maples to eligible residents and businesses in Boerne.
Since 2006, Boerne NPSOT has awarded almost 2,000 maple trees. These trees add brilliant autumn colors of red, orange and yellow around Boerne. The maples are visible in the local city parks, neighborhoods, churches, and along city streets and trails for all to enjoy.
Bigtooth maple trees are also called “Lost” maples because they naturally occur in pocket communities often separated by hundreds of miles in canyons and woodlands throughout the western US. This is the same type of maple that attracts a significant number of visitors to the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Thousands of Bigtooth maples grow in the limestone canyons in Kendall County; however, the overpopulation of deer and the warming climate are decreasing their abundance.
This November will be the 16th annual Bigtooth Maples for Boerne tree giveaway. Applications are due by October 1st . Currently, there is a high demand for these maples but they are in short supply. Regional growers and nurseries are increasing their inventory of maples thanks to the successful seed propagation by local NPSOT members, Chuck Janzow and Martha Barker. Over the years, they have gathered seeds from trees in and around Boerne, and provided the small seedlings needed by local nurseries to continue to successfully grow their supply of trees. Funding provided by the Cibolo Preserve allows Boerne Native Plant Society of Texas to purchase maple trees, along with the mulch and cages needed to protect the trees.
Boerne businesses and residents who pledge to plant maples in visible locations and provide the necessary water and care to help the tree thrive, are awarded a maple tree while supplies last. With proper watering, it takes about three years for a transplanted tree to establish a deep root system that enables it to survive on its own. Protective fencing around the maple requires many more years because deer love to eat the maple leaves needed to nourish the roots and to rub their antlers along the paper-thin trunks of the trees, thereby cutting off the trees nutrients.
Bigtooth Maples for Boerne began as an idea by members of Boerne NPSOT to make native maples the signature tree of the city. With the encouragement of Bill and Bob Lende and private funding from the Lende Foundation in 2006, and an army of volunteers, it started looking like it might become a reality. When a distribution site was needed to unload trees, the AgriCultural, formerly the Agricultural Heritage Museum, generously stepped up and agreed to host the annual tree give-away event. The late Bill Lende formed the Cibolo Preserve in 2008, and the organization continues to support the Bigtooth Maples for Boerne project; a legacy that surrounds Boerne and continues to grow.
The mission of the Boerne Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas is to promote research, conservation and utilization of native plants and plant habitats of Texas through education, outreach and example.
Cibolo Preserve is dedicated to protecting nature through research. The 645-acre preserve is located on the Cibolo Creek just downstream from Boerne City Park and adjacent to the Cibolo Nature Center. This natural habitat supports a unique native plant and animal environment while supplying groundwater recharge to the Trinity Aquifer through fractures and caverns in its limestone creek bed. While closed to the general public, you can learn all about Cibolo Preserve and the important research work being conducted there by visiting www.cibolopreserve.org.
The AgriCultural Museum and Arts Center fosters the creation and appreciation of the fine arts, and heritage of the Texas Hill Country, through educational and diverse programs. www.theagricultural.org