• Acer rubrum


    "Red maple is a native, deciduous tree in the Sapindaceae (maple) family that may grow to 120 feet tall with a trunk 6 feet in diameter, but is more commonly 40 to 70 feet high and 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet across. It is a handsome shade tree with a rounded crown and ascending branches to a 30- to 50-foot spread. In nature, it can be found growing in upland deciduous forests, up to at least 1500 meters in elevation. 

    "This is one of the first trees to show color in the fall. The leaves are opposite, with three to five palmate lobes and toothed margins on long red stems. The red maple has a slightly smaller leaf than most other species of maples. Its leaves' most distinctive feature is a rough, saw-like edge. If the leaf margin, or edge, of your maple's leaves appear serrated, it is probably a red maple. The bark of young trees is smooth and silvery-gray, becoming scaly and dark with age. Small, red flowers in clusters mature in late winter, and the tree is one of the first to flower in early spring. During spring, light brown or red-winged samaras mature. In the fall the leaves turn orange-red, though the brilliance of this color can vary among individual trees. It is easy to plant and establish as a transplant of a small specimen bare-root, or balled and burlapped.

    "This tree is the best choice for a soft maple. It makes an excellent lawn, park, or street tree. It has some tolerance for air pollution. The light, creme-colored wood, which is known commercially as soft maple, is heavy, closed grained, and rather weak. It is used as pulpwood and in the manufacture of furniture and woodenware." (North Carolina Extension)

    Acer Rubrum Botany  by Dr. John Hilty

    "This tree is very adaptable, tolerating full sun to light shade, wet to dry conditions, and almost any kind of soil, although it prefers moist loamy soil that is mildly acidic. It grows moderately fast while young, bearing samaras in as little as 5 years. Longevity of mature trees is typically 75-150 years." (Hilty)

    Faunal Associations:
    "Insects that feed on the leaves, plant juices, wood, and other parts of Red Maple (Acer rubrum) include larvae of gall flies, plant bugs, aphids, leafhoppers, treehoppers, scale insects, and larvae of moths. Red Maple is a preferred host plant for the larvae of two moths, Parallelia bistriaris (Maple Looper) and Macaria pustularia (Lesser Maple Spanworm). The Insect Table has a list of insect species that have been observed to feed specifically on Red Maple. The larvae of some beetles also bore through the wood Red Maple and other maples (Acer spp.); the Wood-boring Beetle Table lists some of these species.

    White-tailed deer browsing in winter

    "Vertebrate animals use Red Maple and other maples as a source of food, nesting habitat, and cover. Some upland gamebirds (Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Bobwhite, etc.) and songbirds (Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, etc.) eat the seeds and buds, while the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drills holes into the bark to feed on sap (see Bird Table). Woodpeckers and other insectivorous songbirds often search for the many insects that feed on maples; these insects are especially important in feeding young nestlings. Twigs and sometimes the leaves of Red Maple are browsed by White-Tailed Deer and Elk, primarily during the winter when other foods are scarce; the leaves of this tree are reportedly toxic to cattle and horses. The Cottontail Rabbit sometimes eats the seedlings, while tree squirrels occasionally eat the seeds. The cavities of older trees are used as nesting habitat by some birds (Screech Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Duck, Northern Flicker, Tree Swallow) and tree squirrels (Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Red Squirrel); such cavities are also used by various tree-roosting bats." (Hilty) 

    1. Copyright—Long Island Natives, All Rights Reserved 
    2. "Red Maple during autumn on Lower Ferry Road in Ewing, New Jersey" By Famartin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36970075
    3. "Red Maple (Acer rubrum)" by wallygrom is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    North Carolina Extension plant description: Acer Rubrum (Carolina Maple, Curled Maple, Drummond’s Maple, Red Maple, Scarlet Maple, Soft Maple, Swamp Maple) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/acer-rubrum/. Accessed 9 Feb. 2022.

    John Hilty botany, cultivation and faunal associations: John Hilty, "Red Maple", Illinois Wildflowers, Copyright 2004-2019. Accessed 9 February 2022

    White-tailed deer image:  "White-tailed deer browse for food" by Eagle-Wings is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    Common Name: red maple
    Type: Tree
    Family: Sapindaceae
    Native Range: Eastern and central North America
    Zone: 3 to 9
    Height: 40.00 to 70.00 feet
    Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
    Bloom Time: March to April
    Bloom Description: Red, sometimes yellow
    Sun: Full sun to part shade
    Water: Medium to wet
    Maintenance: Low
    Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree, Rain Garden
    Flower: Showy
    Leaf: Good Fall
    Tolerate: Wet Soil, Air Pollution

    Information and images compiled by Erik N.Vegeto

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