red maple
Acer rubrum
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: scarlet maple
  • LEAVES: opposite, simple, deciduous; silvery below; 3-5 lobes, toothed margins, V-shaped sinuses; red to green petiole
  • FLOWER: dioecious, red, pistillate flowers on drooping racemes, very obvious; flowers before leafing out — December to February
  • FRUIT: double samara, usually showy red, sometimes green or brown; fruits mature in spring and promptly falling
  • TWIGS: reddish buds, terminal blunt, globose lateral flower buds; flower buds swell almost as soon as leaves drop in the fall
  • BARK: light to dark gray, smooth when young; long scaly plates when older
  • FORM: medium to large tree, to 69-90 feet tall and 2-3 feet in diameter
  • HABITAT: moist but well-drained uplands to cypress-tupelo swamps and wet swales in bottomland hardwood forests
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US, extending into Canada  [MAP]
  • USES: considered a soft maple, moderate quality hardwood when large; pulp for paper; maple seed, in general, is used by song and game birds depending upon seed maturity; small mammals use browse, bark, buds; important squirrel food; good deer browse
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. opposite leaves and branching; leaves with 3-5 palmate lobes, margins toothed; leaf sinuses V-shaped
    2. red flowers on drooping racemes,appearing before leaves
    3. double red to green samaras; spring fruiting, fruits fall shortly after ripening

    Note: Acer rubrum exhibits considerable variation throughout its range. Several varieties are sometimes recognized, including var. drummondii (Drummond red maple), which occurs on very wet sites and whose leaves are tomentose below. The nominate variety occurs on mesic sites and lacks pubescence on leaf undersurfaces.