Pronunciation: AY-ser ROO-brum
Common name(s): Red Maple, Swamp Maple
USDA hardiness zones: 4 through 9
Origin: native to North America
Uses: Bonsai; wide tree lawns over 6 feet wide; medium-sized tree lawns 4 to 6 feet wide; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; near a deck or patio; reclamation plant; screen; shade tree; residential street tree
Spread: 25 to 35 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular outline or silhouette
Crown shape: oval; round; upright
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Trunk and Branches:
Pruning requirement: requires pruning to develop strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage either at the crotch due to poor collar formation, or from weak wood that tends to break
Current year twig color: gray; reddish
Current year twig thickness: medium
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed; incised; serrate
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: orange; red; yellow
Fall characteristic: showy
Maples should not be pruned in spring and will bleed profusely. Wait to prune until late summer to early autumn and only on a young tree. Red maple is a large grower and needs at least 10 to 15 feet of clear trunk when it matures.
Soil tolerances: clay; loam; sand; acidic; extended
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: low
Soil salt tolerance: poor
The tree makes the best growth in wet places and has no other particular soil preference except chlorosis may develop on alkaline soil where it also grows poorly. It is well-suited as a street tree in northern and mid-south climates in residential and other suburban areas but the bark is thin and easily damaged by mowers. Irrigation is often needed to support street tree plantings in well-drained soil in the south. Roots can raise sidewalks as silver maples can but they have a less aggressive root system and so they make a good street tree. Surface roots beneath the canopy can make mowing difficult.
Red Maple is easily transplanted and usually develops surface roots in soil ranging from well drained sand to clay. It is not especially drought tolerant, particularly in the southern part of the range, but selected individual trees can be found growing on dry sites. This trait shows the wide range of genetic diversity in the species. Branches often grow upright through the crown forming poor attachments to the trunk. These should be removed in the nursery or after planting in the landscape to help prevent branch failure in older trees during storms. Select branches with a wide angle from the trunk and prevent branches from growing larger than half the diameter of the trunk.
The newly emerging leaves and red flowers and fruits signal that spring has come. They appear in December and January in Florida, later in the northern part of its range. The seeds of red maple are quite popular with squirrels and birds. This tree is sometimes confused with red-leaved cultivars of Norway Maple.