Red Maple

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
This tree is located in the residential neighborhood bordering Prospect St, and close to the vegetation in Marsh Botanical Gardens. The red maple is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees in Eastern and Central North America. It is super adaptable and has taken on a large variety of morphological characteristics based on its local environment. Many of its features, especially its leaves, are quite variable in form. At maturity it often attains a height of around 15-25 m (50-85 ft). Its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees. Among these features, however, it is best known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.
Angela Jin
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
21.30 m
Diameter at breast height: 
1.04 m

The bark is a pale grey and smooth when the individual is young. As the tree grows the bark becomes darker and cracks into slightly raised long plates.
Twigs & branches
The twigs of the red maple are reddish in color and somewhat shiny with small lenticels. Dwarf shoots are present on many branches. The buds are usually blunt and greenish to reddish in color, generally with several loose scales. The lateral buds are slightly stalked, and in addition there may be collateral buds present as well. The buds form in fall and winter and are often visible from a distance due to their reddish tint. The leaf scars on the twig are V-shaped and contain 3 bundle scars.
The red maple's brilliant red foliage in the autumn makes it one of the most popular trees to be planted and introduced in North America. The leaves of the red maple are easily identified by their shape. They are typically 5-10 cm long with 3-5 palmate lobes with a serrated margin. The leaves are arranged oppositely on a twig.
Reproductive Structures
The flowers are generally unisexual, with male and female flowers appearing in separate sessile clusters, though they are sometimes also bisexual. They appear in spring from April to May. The tree itself is considered Polygamodioecious, meaning some individuals are male, some female, and some monoecious. Under the proper conditions, the tree can sometimes switch from male to female, male to hermaphroditic, and hermaphroditic to female. The red maple will begin blooming when it is about 8 years old, but it significantly varies between tree to tree.
The fruit is a samara (winged nutlet) 15-25 mm long that grows in pairs with somewhat divergent wings. They are variable in color from light brown to reddish. They ripen from April through early June, before even the leaf development is altogether complete. After they reach maturity, the seeds are dispersed for a 1 to 2 week period from April through July.
  • Spring, before blooming (April 17, 2017)
Natural range of distribution: 
Over most of its range, red maple is adaptable to a very wide range of site conditions, perhaps more so than any other tree in eastern North America. It can be found growing in swamps, on poor dry soils, and most anywhere in between. It grows well from sea level to about 900 m (3,000 ft).
Origin, history, and uses: 

Acer rubrum is native to North America. It has historically been very successful and is considered one of the most, if not the most, widespread deciduous trees in North America.

The red maple has many uses. For example, it is used for tree lawns, residential street trees, furniture, flooring, fuel, timber, maple syrup, bonsai, and natural remedies.

Several factors can be used to judge the life cycle of the red maples: In leaves, how many buds are breaking? What percentage of the potential canopy space is full with leaves? What percentage of full size are most leaves? What percentage of the potential canopy space is full with non-green leaf color? In flowers, how many flowers and flower buds are present? What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? How much pollen is released? In fruits, How many fruits are present? What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe? How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?
Media and Arts


Red maple tree

I lie back in the weather-proofed green chair
To gaze up at the flowering maple tree.
Now, touched by sun, lungs full of scented air
I embrace with joy the beauty I now see.

Old celandine show brightly by my feet
Neglected currant bushes straggle round the path
There is no birdsong yet a silence sweet
Soothes my heart and quietens my wrath.

For my heart's sore and anguished is my mind
Yet in this little wood I feel deep calm.
My eyes are shadowed and my face is lined.
May this green spring bring me a gentle balm.

For even in depression and deep grief,
The mind makes healing medicine of a leaf.

- Katherine Thwaite

The Maple Tree

The Maple with its tassell flowers of green
That turns to red, a stag horn shapèd seed
Just spreading out its scallopped leaves is seen,
Of yellowish hue yet beautifully green.
Bark ribb’d like corderoy in seamy screed
That farther up the stem is smoother seen,
Where the white hemlock with white umbel flowers
Up each spread stoven to the branches towers
And mossy round the stoven spread dark green
And blotched leaved orchis and the blue-bell flowers -
Thickly they grow and neath the leaves are seen.
I love to see them gemm’d with morning hours.
I love the lone green places where they be
And the sweet clothing of the Maple tree. 

- John Clare

The Seeds of the Red Maple

Overnight, the red maple in our backyard,
provider of shade when leaves are full and days
are hot, and of majesty even when bare
in winter, has let go of its seeds, now at
mid summer, in the joy of light and
grief of time taking its inevitable
shape, the season giving in to its own pulse,
the maple’s colors soon to turn once again.

The tree’s fruit keys * are everywhere, in grass and
shrubs and covering the patio flagstones
and table at which I write this poem, their
strange green casings joined to one another as
if in an eternal kiss, their oddly shaped
wings, whose reticulate filaments emerge
out of a leathery spine, mimicking the
half moon, its glow doing the dark’s secret work.

Children, splitting the husks open to find the
sticky pith within (which squirrels love to eat
raised up on haunches, forepaws in a flurry,
their frantic chewing the hint of an autumn
recklessness when winter food must be stored), fix
the wings to their noses so they are marked as
people of the tree, yet other seeds will fly
free, taking their tenacious hold in the soil.

- Burt Kimmelman