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  • For better results, orders placed during the summer will be delivered in the fall
  • For better results, orders placed during the summer will be delivered in the fall

Red maple (acer rubrum)

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Acer rubrum (red maple, also known as swamp maple, water maple or soft maple) is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees in the east and central North America. The United States Forest Service recognizes it as the most common tree species in America. The red maple ranges from southeastern Manitoba, around Lake of the Woods, to the Ontario-Minnesota border, east to Newfoundland, south to Florida and southwest to eastern Texas. Many of its features, particularly its leaves, are quite variable in their shape. When mature, it often reaches a height of around 15 m (49 ft). It is aptly named because its flowers, petioles, branches and seeds are all red to varying degrees. Among these characteristics, however, it is best known for its brilliant deep red foliage in autumn.

Throughout most of its range, the red maple is adaptable to a very wide range of site conditions, perhaps more than any other tree in eastern North America. It can be found in swamps, on poor, dry soils, and almost everywhere in between. It grows well from sea level to about 900 m (3,000 ft). Because of its attractive fall foliage and pleasing shape, it is often used as a shade tree in landscapes. It is used commercially on a small scale for the production of maple syrup as well as for its medium to high quality lumber.

Although A. rubrum is generally easy to identify, its morphological characteristics are very changeable. It is a medium to large tree, reaching heights of 18 to 27 meters (59 to 89 feet) and exceptionally over 35 meters (115 feet). Leaves are typically 9 to 11 centimeters (3.5 to 4.3 inches) long on a mature tree. Trunk diameter can vary from 46 to 76 cm (18 to 30 in), depending on growing conditions.[7] Its wingspan is approximately 12 m (39 ft). A 10-year-old sapling measures about 6 m (20 ft). In forests, the bark remains clear of the branches up to a certain distance from the tree. Individuals grown outdoors are shorter and thicker, with a more rounded crown[8], but in general the crown is irregularly ovoid with curved, whip-shaped ascending shoots. The bark is pale gray and smooth when the individual is young. As the tree grows, the bark becomes darker and splits into long, slightly raised plates.[9] The largest known living red maple is found near Armada, Michigan, with a height of 38.1 m (125 ft) and a trunk circumference, at breast height, of 4.95 m (16.2 ft).

The red maple rarely lives more than 150 years, making it a short- to medium-lived tree. It reaches maturity in 70 to 80 years. Its ability to thrive in a wide range of habitats is largely due to its ability to produce site-adapted roots from a young age. In moist locations, red maple seedlings produce short taproots with long, developed lateral roots, while on dry sites they develop long taproots with significantly shorter lateral roots. The roots, however, are mainly horizontal, forming in the upper 25 cm of soil. Mature trees have woody roots up to 25 m (82 ft) long. They are very tolerant of flooding, with one study showing that 60 days of flooding caused no damage to the leaves. At the same time, they are drought tolerant due to their ability to stop growth in dry conditions and then produce a second growth spurt when conditions improve, even if growth has been stopped for two weeks.


  • Full-sun

IMPORTANT: We do not deliver trees 7' and over! (Nursery pickup only)

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