Monday, June 22, 2020
Red Maple - Acer rubrum (also called Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, White Maple or Soft Maple-regionally)
The Red Maple - Acer rubrum, is also called Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, White Maple or Soft Maple in different regions. It is one of the most abundant trees in the forests of the Eastern United States, and can be found growing from Florida in the South to Canada in the North. Red Maple is harvested and marketed as soft Maple, it is valued on a limited basis for Maple Syrup production, but is most valued as a strong and durable urban tree. A medium to large sized deciduous tree with the potential of reaching 60-90 feet tall in ideal conditions, The Red Maple is a fast grower with beautiful fall foliage and the ability to thrive in even poor or degraded soil conditions.
(Canopy and bark) Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org
(Fall Color) Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Red Maple can pose a challenge when it comes to identification as the features and characteristics of the tree change as the tree ages. When small the bark is thin, smooth, and light gray in color, becoming thicker and a gray-brown with age and developing flaky thick bark from the trunk up to the limbs, smooth patches generally remain high in the branches into maturity and in patches on the trunk during the transitional period. Slender and young branch tips are often bright red in color and the forked trunks and limbs that grow from the trunk usually have sharp V shaped crotches. The leaves are opposite and simple in form, 2.5 - 4 inches in length and width, with wide, pointed, toothed lobes. Generally the leaves all contain three large lobes, and occasionally two additional smaller lobes. The leaves are Green on the upper surface with a whitish underside, and become a vibrant scarlet, yellow or orange in the fall. The sinuses between lobes generally form sharp V shaped notches. The flowers are uni-sexual and tiny red or orange in color with 4-5 sepals and petals each, generally male and female flowers occur as separate trees. only occasionally on the same tree. The fruit occurs in paired Samaras (lovingly called "helicopters" by many) 1.5-3 cm long often bright red in color, maturing or shedding before or with leaf emergence.
(Foliage/Fall) Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
(Fruit) Image Citation: Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org