Red Maple

Red_Maple_jpgMore than 100 species of the maple family (Aceraceae) are known to exist around the world, and about 15 maples occur in North America.  The maples are often split into two groups based on the qualities of their wood.  These are called the “soft maples” and the “hard maples”. Red Maple and silver maple are soft maples.  Sugar maple is a hard maple. In all seasons of the year, the Red Maple has something red about it.  Winter buds are red and brightly displayed on the tops to these trees. In spring flowers and twigs are red and in summer the leaf stalks are red.  The fall foliage turn crimson or wine red and is second in splendor only to the Sugar Maple. The Red Maple is valuable as timber; although it is a soft wood.  Sugar may be drawn from Red Maple, though in much smaller quantities, and of lower quality, than from Sugar Maple.  The tree is used in landscaping. Colonial Americans made an ink with the tannin extracted from Red Maple bark and a cinnamon-colored or black dye was produced from the bark.

OtherCommonName:

Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, Soft Maple, White Maple

ScientificName:

Acer rubrum var. rubrum also var. trilobum

Community:

Thicket

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Woody tree

PlantHeight:

30 to 75 feet

FruitingTime:

Early May to June

Distribution:

Throughout Eastern North America ~ Statewide in New Jersey except in dry parts of Pine Barrens

FloweringTime:

Mid March to late April

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Leaves opposite, simple, 2-4 inches, 3-5 lobed, lobes triangular and toothed, medium to light green above and lighter beneath, turn greenish-yellow to brilliant red in fall ~ Twigs slender, green changing to red, dotted, buds green to red ~ Flowers yellow tinted to bright red, appear before leaves ~ Fruit 1 inch long samara (winged fruit), often red and maturing to brown on slender drooping pedicels ~ Bark smooth and gray when young, often dotted with lichens, becoming darker and thicker with age,