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Red Maple

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Red Maple

Acer rubrum

Family: Sapindaceae

Leaf Type: Deciduous

Mature Height: ~30 m (~100 ft)

Fall Color: Red, maroon, yellow, orange

Native Range: Red maples are recognized as the most abundant tree in eastern North America by the U.S. Forest Service. They can be found in nearly every state in the eastern half of the United States.

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Features

Red maples reproduce using samaras, which are winged and papery fruit pods. These seed pods are designed to travel easily through the air, ensuring successful seed dispersal, or spreading. Red maples have a double winged, red, papery samara that is about an inch long. They are commonly found on the ground in springtime. The leaves of red maples are on reddish leaf stalks, or petioles, and are around four inches long. A red maple and a yellow maple can easily be distinguished from each other by identifying the red petiole, leaf stem, or the leaf. Mature leaves usually have three triangular, pointed lobes with toothed edges. The underleaf is whitish. The bark of red maples is gray and forms ridges as the tree matures. These trees tend to live less than 150 years. They have thin bark that is easily damaged, making way for rot and disease. Red maple wood is softer than some other maple woods like sugar maple which makes it less desirable for building textiles. The sap from red maples can be tapped for syrup, but the season is so short that it is not as commercially productive as other maple species like sugar or black maples.

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Fun Facts

● The red petiole (leaf stem) and red leaves (in fall) give the red maple it’s name.
● The leaves of red maples, especially dried ones, are toxic to horses.
● The bark of red maples was historically used in medicine, and also to make dyes and ink.

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