Red Maple
Swamp Maple, Soft Maple
(Acer rubrum Linnaeus)

Bark | Twigs | Leaves | Fruit | Outstanding Features
Red Maple | Silver Maple | Black Maple | Box Elder | Sugar Maple

Red maple derives its name from its brilliant autumnal foliage. While common in swamps and moist slopes throughout New York, it is also abundant on dry slopes. Red maple is becoming more common as it typically reproduces well by seed and by sprouts from the stump following cutting. It is an extremely rapid-growing tree, furnishing a fairly strong, close-grained wood, and is used extensively for inexpensive furniture, in the manufacture of baskets and crates, for mine props, railroad ties, and fuel wood. The fruit, a samara, is an important wildlife food as it develops in the spring when other foods typically are not yet available.

Bark - on young trunks smooth, light gray in color, often resembling beech; with age becoming darker and roughened into long ridges, often shaggy or scaly on surface with plates lifting on the upper or lower edge; bark character extremely variable on different trees in the same stand. Bark on medium sized trees often having a pattern of concentric rings.

Twigs - rather slender, bright or dark red in color, without odor when cut or broken.

Winter buds - broad, blunt-pointed, clustered, short stalk, red in color; terminal bud slightly larger than lateral buds; numerous large, plump flower buds along the twig.


Leaves - simple, opposite, from 3 to 4 inches long, fully as wide, usually 3-lobed or rounded clefts of sugar maple; the clefts between lobes shallow and sharp angled as contrasted with deep clefts of silver maple; margins of leaf lobes coarsely serrate (with teeth); at maturity leaves light green in color above, pale greenish white below.

Fruit - maple keys (samaras), in clusters on long stalks, ripening in late May or early June. Seeds joined more or less end on end and are often reddish.

Outstanding features - red buds and twigs; sharp angle between leaf lobes, leaf edge having teeth, concentric circles on bark.

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