Plant of the Week: Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

By on November 18, 2010.

Acer rubrum: Native across the southeast US, the red maple affords deep crimson fall color and beautifully conspicuous seeds. Numerous cultivars produce fairly reliable color variations for plantings in parks, lowlands, lawns, forests, and streets.

Size/Habit/Lifetime:  Small to large tree, deciduous, 30-60’ on average, champion specimens over 135 x 88’ in Great Smoky Mt, TN.  Hardy Zones 3B –9. Habit is pyramidal to elliptical when young. Becoming ovoid, irregularly shaped with ascending branching.

Culture: Prefers moist conditions, not drought tolerant. Full sun to partial shade. Transplants best when young, tolerant of most soils preferring acidic and organic soils. Not well suited to polluted areas.

Leaf/Stem: Opposite, simple leaves, typically 3- occasionally 5- lobes. 3-5” long and wide, Dark green leaf color above, grayish white below. Serrated margins.  Distinguishing feature is red petiole and central leaf vein. Bark light gray to dark gray, roughening with age. Fall color is this maples prized attribute but it is not guaranteed with native varieties.


Flower/Fruit: Flowers born in early spring on leaf buds prior to or along with emerging leafs.  Fruit are samaras, mature in Mid-Spring in bright red color.


One Comment

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