Red Maple

Acer rubrum | Family: Sapindaceae

Submission: Madeline McGonagle ‘18

Red MapleIdentification:

Leaves – Generally 3-lobed, serrate, with the sides of the terminal lobe often convergent; glaucous below.

Flower – One of the first trees to flower in the spring with small red flowers that hang in clusters.

Twigs – Opposite branching; without fetid odor, compared to silver maple; reddish and lustrous; leaf scars are v-shaped with 3 bundle scars; slightly stalked lateral buds.

Buds – Imbricate with reddish scales; slightly stalked lateral buds; terminal buds clustered at tip of branch.

Red Maple leaves and twigFruit – ½ to ¾ inch samaras with slightly divergent wings; mature in late spring to early summer.

Bark – Gray scaly plates, variable, and often with “targets.”


Natural History:

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum), is also known as soft, swamp, or white maple. This tree is native to North America, but most commonly found in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, upper Michigan, and Northeast Wisconsin. Red Maple is a shade tolerant tree, meaning it is able to thrive with low levels of light. It is a medium sized tree, reaching average heights of 50-60 feet with diameters of 1-2 feet and grows on a variety of sites with varying elevation, soil type, pH, and wetness. Red Maple is commonly used for pulp and firewood, but may also be used for canoe paddles, furniture, or pallets. The young branches of red maple serve as an important source of food for wildlife like elk and white-tailed deer.

Red Maple bark


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Shane, J. 2004. Dendrology Handbook, University of Vermont, Unpublished.