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Red Maple Acer rubrum


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Red Maple
credit: Ftlombardo/CCSA

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Family: Aceraceae, Maple view all from this family

Description Medium to large sized tree. Crown irregularly ovoid with ascending curved shoots. Bark pale grey, smooth; darker and cracked into slightly long raised plates with age. Leaves deciduous, arranged opposite on twig. Typically 5–10 cm. (2-4 in.) long and wide with 3-5 palmate lobes and serrated margin. When 5 lobes present, three at the terminal end are larger than the two near the base. Upper side of leaf light green; underside whitish. Leaf stalks usually red, up to 10 cm. (4 in.) long. Brilliant red in autumn. Twigs reddish, shiny with small lenticels. Dwarf shoots on many branches. Buds blunt, greenish to reddish in color, with loose scales. Lateral buds slightly stalked, forming in fall and winter; often visible from a distance due to their reddish tint. Flowers unisexual, male and female flowers appear in separate clusters, sometimes bisexual. Staminate flowers contain between 4 and 12 stamens, often with 8. Fruit 15 to 25 mm. (.5 to .75 in.) long double samara with divergent wings at an angle of 50 to 60 degrees on long slender stems, light brown to reddish.

Dimensions Height: 18-27 m. (60-90 ft.)
Diameter: 0.8 m. (2 1/2 ft.).

Habitat Watersides (fresh), Swamps (fresh & salt).

Range Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Southeast, Great Lakes, New England, Eastern Canada, Plains, Texas.

Discussion Used as a shade tree for landscapes. Used commercially on a small scale for maple syrup production as well as for its medium to high quality lumber.

Comments This is one of the first maples to turn color in the fall. Not all red maples have brilliant red foliage, especially those grown from seed. Red maples from the North are extremely cold-hardy, and those from southern areas are very heat-resistant. Upland and lowland types will not tolerate eachothers' habitats. All plants show chlorosis in high pH and cannot stand dry heat. Wilt, leaf hoppers and leaf scorch are problems. Growth rate is medium to fast. Although one of the "soft" maples, red maple is not as prone to storm damage as some of the other, more brittle species.

Exposure Preference Shade to partial sun.

Native Distribution Newfoundland. to s. Ontario, s. to Florida & e. Texas

Site Preference Moist soils along stream banks; moist to drier woodlands

Soil Preference Moist, slightly acidic soils.

Wildlife Value This a preferred species for browsing deer and moose.