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Overview

Brief Summary

Red Maple

    Aceraceae -- Maple family

    Russell S. Walters and Harry W. Yawney

    Red maple (Acer rubrum) is also known as scarlet maple,  swamp maple, soft maple, Carolina red maple, Drummond red maple,  and water maple (33). Many foresters consider the tree inferior  and undesirable because it is often poorly formed and defective,  especially on poor sites. On good sites, however, it may grow  fast with good form and quality for saw logs. Red maple is a  subclimax species that can occupy overstory space but is usually  replaced by other species. It is classed as shade tolerant and as  a prolific sprouter. It has great ecological amplitude from sea  level to about 900 m (3,000 ft) and grows over a wide range of  microhabitat sites. It ranks high as a shade tree for landscapes.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Acer rubrum, a medium to large tree native to North America, is called red maple for its red buds, flowers, fruits, brilliant fall foliage, and even twigs. It is the State Tree of Rhode Island (USNA 2011).

Red maple grows up to 20 m tall, usually with a narrow compact crown, and may occur singly or in a clump of stems that resprouted from a single stump after cutting or fire. Young bark is smooth, thin, and gray; older trees develop furrowed bark with scaly or even shaggy ridges. Leaves are deciduous, opposite, with blades 6-10 cm long and usually about as wide, with 3 to 5 shallow short-pointed and serrate or toothed lobes. Flowers are pink to red, in fascicles (clusters) or drooping racemes. Individual trees are monoecious (male and female flowers on separated trees) or bisexual (male and female flowers on the same tree, or segregated by branches within the tree—technically polygamo-dioecious). Fruits are paired samaras (winged nutlets) 2-2.5 cm long, clustered on long stalks (Wikipedia 2011).

Red maple is one of the most widely distributed trees in eastern North America (see distribution map). It tolerates a wide variety of soil types and site conditions, ranging from swamps and poorly drained soils to drier uplands, savannas, sandy dunes, and barrens (Barnes and Wagner 2004, Burns and Honkala 1990, Michigan Flora Online 2011). It is widely planted as a shade tree and in parks, with more than 50 cultivars that vary in leaf shape, fall color, and tree form (Van Geldrin et al. 2010). It has various timber uses, can yield maple syrup (but less than sugar maple), and was used by Native Americans and pioneers for medicinal and other purposes (see uses).

Red maple has increased dramatically in abundance and distribution since the early 1800s, when early settlement records suggest that it was restricted to swampy sites. Fire suppression has allowed it to gain a competitive advantage and replace oaks in drier upland forests (Abrams 1998). It is a “supergeneralist” that can act as a pioneer species, quickly colonizing disturbed and cut-over sites, but capable of dominating later in succession (Abrams 1998). It is browsed less by deer and defoliated less by gypsy moths than oak species; the differential damage may indirectly benefit the red maple (Abrams 1998, Jedlicka et al. 2004). Its increased abundance may also be linked to the decline of Ulmus americana (American elm) from Dutch elm disease, and of Castanea dentata (American chestnut) from blight. By 2002, red maple was one of the 10 most abundant tree species in U.S. forests (FIA 2011). Its distribution has been further increased due to frequent naturalization from horticultural plantings.

Red maple leaves, twig, bark, and/or fruits are a food source for numerous mammals, birds, and insects. However, red maple leaves are extremely toxic to horses (Wikipedia 2011).
  • Abrams, M. 1998. The red maple paradox. BioScience 48(5): 355–364.
  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, tech. coords. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 p. Retrieved September 18, 2011 from http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm.
  • Duncan, W.H., and M.B. Duncan. 1988. Trees of the Southeastern U.S. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
  • FIA. 2011. Current U.S. forest data and maps. Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved September 12, 2011, from http://fia.fs.fed.us/.
  • Jedlicka, J., J. Vandermeer, K. Aviles-Vazquez, O. Barros, and I. Perfecto. 2004. Gypsy moth defoliation of oak trees and a positive response of red maple and black cherry: An example of indirect interaction. American Midland Naturalist 152(2): 231-236.
  • MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. 2011. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Retrieved 18 Septebmer 2011 from http://michiganflora.net/home.aspx.
  • USNA. 2011. State trees and state flowers. United States National Arboretum, U.S. Dept. of Agricuilture. Retrieved September 18, 2011 from http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/statetreeflower.html
  • PFAF. 2011. “Acer rubrum.” Retrieved September 19, 2011, from Plants for a Future online, http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acer+rubrum.
  • Van Gelderen, D. M., H. J. Oterdoom, and P. C. De Jong. 2010. Maples of the World. Timber Press (OR).
  • Wikipedia 2011. “Acer rubrum.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Aug 2011, 13:07 UTC. Retrieved 22 August 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Acer_rubrum&oldid=443922826.
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© Jacqueline Courteau, modified from USDA Plants Database

Supplier: Jacqueline Courteau

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Comprehensive Description

Comments

Because of its attractive leaves (red fall color, reddish petioles), attractive flowers and samaras (also often red), and contrasting silvery gray bark, this is one of the most attractive maples. In particular, the flowers of Red Maple tend to stand out from the background because they develop very early in the spring when both flowers and leaves are scarce. Its only other rival in this respect is Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum), which has less colorful flowers. Both of these maples develop earlier in the spring than other maples and their samaras become mature by early summer. The leaves of Silver Maple are more deeply lobed than those of Red Maple, and Silver Maple also has larger samaras. Because of its variability, different varieties of Red Maple have been described; these varieties occur primarily in the southeastern states. One variety that is found in southern Illinois, Drummond's Maple (Acer rubrum drummondii), occurs primarily in swamps and bottomland woodlands, sometimes in standing water. It differs from the typical variety of Red Maple (as described here) by having a dense coating of fine white hairs on the lower surface of its leaves. In addition, the petioles and twigs of Drummond's Maple are often pubescent, and it has larger samaras (1¼-2" long). Because of these differences, some authors (Mohlenbrock, 2002) have classified this tree as a distinct species, Acer drummondii.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This tree is 50-80' tall, forming a single trunk up to 3' across and a rounded crown with ascending to spreading branches. Trunk bark of older trees is gray, irregularly scaly, and rough-textured, while trunk bark of young trees is light gray and more smooth. The bark of branches and older twigs is whitish gray and smooth, while young twigs of the current year are reddish brown, glabrous, terete, and covered with scattered white lenticels. Young leafy shoots are light green, glabrous, and terete; they also have scattered white lenticels. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along young twigs and shoots. Individual leaves are 2½-4" long and a little less across; they are divided into 3 palmate lobes (or less often 5 palmate lobes) and their margins are crenate-serrate. The sinuses divide the leaf blade moderately deep and they are cleft. The base of each leaf is slightly cordate to rounded. The upper surface of the leaves is yellowish green to medium green and glabrous, while the lower surface is pale gray-green to white, glabrous or nearly glabrous, and glaucous. In some  local ecotypes of this tree, the lower side of the leaves is slightly glaucous, while in others it is densely glaucous. The slender petioles are 2-3½" long and light green to red. Individual trees of Red Maple can develop all male flowers, all female flowers, or both male and female flowers on the same tree. Male flowers occur in dense sessile clusters along last year's twigs; they are surrounded by short scaly bracts with ciliate margins. Individual male flowers are about 1/8" long, consisting of 5 sepals, 5 petals, and several stamens. The sepals and petals are usually red (less often yellow) and very similar in appearance. The female flowers also occur in clusters along last year's branches (usually on separate branches when male flowers are present on a tree). These clusters are initially sessile, but the pedicels of the flowers soon become ½-2" long, resulting in drooping umbels. Individual female flowers are about 1/8" long, consisting of 5 sepals, 5 petals, and a 2-celled ovary with a pair of divergent styles. The sepals and petals are usually red (less often yellow) and very similar in appearance. The flowers bloom during early to mid-spring for about 1-2 weeks. They are cross-pollinated by the wind. The female flowers are replaced by paired samaras that are arranged along the twigs in drooping umbels. Each pair of samaras forms a 45-90° angle. Each samara is ¾-1" long, consisting of a single-seeded body and an elongated membranous wing. The samaras can be yellow, red, or reddish brown. They become mature during late spring or early summer and are distributed by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot with lateral roots; they are variable in length, depending on the amount of moisture that is available. The deciduous leaves usually turn red during the autumn; less commonly, they become orange or yellow.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

General: Maple Family (Aceraceae). A native tree growing to 20 m tall, usually with a narrow compact crown, single-boled, or often in clumps of stems from one stump due to prolific sprouting; bark gray and thin, becoming furrowed into long narrow scaly ridges on older trunks and branches. The leaves are deciduous, opposite, long-petioled, blades 6-10 cm long and usually about as wide, with 3 shallow short-pointed lobes, sometimes with two smaller lobes near the base, dull green and smooth above, lighter green or silvery beneath and more or less hairy. The flowers are pink to dark red, about 3 mm long, the male (staminate) flowers fascicled and the female (pistillate) flowers in drooping racemes. The flowers appear to be bisexual but they are functionally male or female, and individual trees may be all male or all female or some trees may have both types, each type on a separate branch (the species technically polygamo-dioecious), or the flowers may be functionally bisexual. Fruits: winged nutlets (samaras) in a pair, 2-2.5 cm long, clustered on long stalks, red to red-brown. The common name is in reference to the red twigs, buds, flowers, and fall leaves.

Variation within the species: Red maple is highly variable and many varieties and forms have been identified. The following varieties are commonly recognized:

Var. drummondii (Hook. & Arn. ex Nutt.) Sarg.

Var. trilobum Torr. & Gray ex K. Koch

Red maple forms natural hybrids with silver maple (A. saccharinum): Acer X freemanii E. Murray.

Distribution: Red maple is one of the most widely distributed trees in eastern North America, extending from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, then south through Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and southern Texas, and east to southern Florida. Its distribution has been increased past its native range through broad cultivation and naturalization of the cultivated forms.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Red Maple is occasional to locally common in southern and NE Illinois, while in other areas of the state it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include floodplain woodlands in river valleys, swamps, sandy flatwoods, sand dunes, upland woodlands and wooded bluffs, acidic gravelly seeps, and forested bogs. Red Maple is typically associated with American Elm, Green Ash, Silver Maple, and other deciduous trees that occur in soggy woodlands, where it is occasionally dominant or codominant. Because of fire suppression, Red Maple has become more common in upland woodlands in some eastern states. It is often cultivated as a landscape tree.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

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Global Range: Common tree species in eastern N. America; Nfld., Quebec, Ont., and Minn., south to Fla., and west to eastern Tex.

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  HI  IL  IN  KY
     LA  ME  MA  MD  MI  MN  MS  MO  NH  NJ
     NY  NC  OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX  VT
     VA  WV  WI  MB  NB  NF  NS  ON  PQ

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Red maple is one of the most widely distributed trees in eastern North
America [97].  Its range extends from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia west
to southern Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois; south through
Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and southern Texas; and east to southern
Florida [64].  It is conspicuously absent from the bottomland forests of
the Corn Belt in the Prairie Peninsula of the Midwest, the coastal
prairies of southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas, and the swamp
prairie of the Florida everglades [97].  It is cultivated in Hawaii [102].
  • 64. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]
  • 102. St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p. [25354]

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Adaptation

Red maple is also one of the most successful and abundant species in the Eastern Deciduous Forest, arguably the most abundant, reproducing aggressively by seeds and sprouts after fire, logging, and abandonment of farmland. It is most abundant on bottomlands and is tolerant of waterlogged soils and flooding, but it is a “supergeneralist,” growing on the widest variety of sites and in the greatest range of conditions (sunny or shady, high or low nutrients, dry or moist) of any North American species, from 0-900 meters. Because red maple grows well in shade, is a key late-successional species, but it also is a successful early successional invader of disturbed sites. “It will probably continue to increase in dominance in the overstory during the next century, causing widespread replacement of the historically dominant trees of the forests of the eastern United States” (Abrams 1998, p. 355). Fire suppression has contributed greatly to the spread of red maple (the thin bark makes it highly susceptible to fire damage) but no single trait is responsible for its success.

Flowering: (February-)March-April, before the vegetative buds, one of the first trees to flower in the spring; fruiting: April-June, before leaf development is complete.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: tree

Red maple is a deciduous tree that grows 30 to 90 feet (9-28 m) tall and
up to 4 feet (1.6 m) in diameter [16,25].  The bark is smooth and gray
but darkens and becomes furrowed in narrow ridges with age [16,38].
Twigs are stout and shiny red to grayish brown [49].

The small, fragrant flowers are borne in slender-stalked, drooping,
axillary clusters [8,16,24,49].  The fruit is a paired, winged samara,
approximately 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) long [49].  Samaras are red, pink, or
yellow [38].
  • 8. Batra, S. W. T. 1985. Red maple (Acer rubrum L.), an important early spring food resource for honey bees and other insects. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 58(1): 169-172. [12666]
  • 16. Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p. [12766]
  • 24. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 25. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 38. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 49. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Red Maple is occasional to locally common in southern and NE Illinois, while in other areas of the state it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include floodplain woodlands in river valleys, swamps, sandy flatwoods, sand dunes, upland woodlands and wooded bluffs, acidic gravelly seeps, and forested bogs. Red Maple is typically associated with American Elm, Green Ash, Silver Maple, and other deciduous trees that occur in soggy woodlands, where it is occasionally dominant or codominant. Because of fire suppression, Red Maple has become more common in upland woodlands in some eastern states. It is often cultivated as a landscape tree.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments: Moist, deep, rich soils of ravines and coves; variety of soil and forest types; swamps; dry uplands; sea level-1400m.

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: cover, tree

Red maple grows throughout throughout much of the deciduous forest of
eastern North America and into the fringes of the boreal forest [49].
It occurs on a variety of wet to dry sites in dense woods and in
openings [25].  Red maple grows in low, rich woods, along the margins of
lakes, marshes, and swamps, in hammocks, wet thickets, and on
floodplains and stream terraces [13,17,24,79,82].  Red maple also occurs
in drier upland woodlands, low-elevation cove forests, dry sandy plains,
and on stable dunes [24,38,96].  Red maple is a common dominant in many
forest types and is considered a major species or associate in more that
56 cover types [97].  In much of the Northeast it grows as an overstory
dominant only in swamps and other wet sites [65].  Red maple grows in
association with more than 70 important tree species.

Soils:  Red maple does well on a wider range of soil types, textures,
moisture regimes, and pH than does any other forest species in North
America [97].  It develops best on moist, fertile, loamy soils [27] but
also grows on a variety of dry, rocky, upland soils [49].  Red maple
grows on soils derived from a variety of parent materials, including
granite, shales, slates, gneisses, schists, sandstone, limestone,
conlgomerates, and quartzites [97].  It also occurs on a variety of
lacustrine sediments, glacial till, and glacial outwash [53].

Elevation:  Red maple grows from sea level to 3,000 feet (0-900 m) in
elevation [97].  Elevational ranges by geographic location are as
follows:

Location                Elevation                       Authority

s Appalachians          up to 5,904 feet (1,800 m)      Duncan & Duncan 1988
White Mountains, NH     1,968 to 2,778 feet (600-850 m) Leak & Graber 1974
  • 13. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 17. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124]
  • 24. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
  • 25. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 27. Erdmann, Gayne G.; Peterson, Ralph M., Jr.; Oberg, Robert R. 1985. Crown releasing of red maple poles to shorten high-quality sawlog rotations. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 15(4): 694-700. [12624]
  • 38. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 49. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 53. Johnson, James E.; Haag, Carl L.; Goetsch, David E. 1986. Forest floor biomass and nutrients in red maple (Acer rubrum L.) stands of Wisconsin and Michigan. Transactions, Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters. 74: 142-146. [12642]
  • 65. Lorimer, Craig G. 1984. Development of the red maple understory in northeastern oak forests. Forest Science. 30(1): 3-22. [12565]
  • 79. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 82. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 96. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: codominant, mesic, swamp

Red maple occurs as a dominant or codominant in several eastern
deciduous forests and deciduous swamp communities with black ash
(Fraxinus nigra), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), northern red oak
(Quercus rubra), black oak ( Q. velutinus), aspen (Populus tremuloides),
and elm (Ulmus spp.).  In mesic upland communities of the Southeast, it
grows as an overstory dominant with sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
and water oak (Quercus palustris).  Red maple has been included as an
indicator or dominant in the following community type (cts) and plant
association (pas) classifications:

Location        Classification          Authority

AL              forest cts              Golden 1979
MA              forest pas              Spurr 1956
se MI           deciduous swamp cts     Barnes 1976       
s MI            forest cts              Hammitt & Barnes 1989
NY              forest cts              Glitzenstein & others 1990
s ON            general veg. cts        Smith & others 1975

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: swamp

     5  Balsam fir
    12  Black spruce
    14  Northern pin oak
    16  Aspen
    17  Pin cherry
    18  Paper birch
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    22  White pine - hemlock
    23  Eastern hemlock
    24  Hemlock - yellow birch
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    28  Black cherry - maple
    30  Red spruce - yellow birch
    31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
    32  Red spruce
    33  Red spruce - balsam fir
    37  Northern white-cedar
    38  Tamarack
    39  Black ash - American elm - red maple
    43  Bear oak
    44  Chestnut oak
    45  Pitch pine
    46  Eastern redcedar
    52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    57  Yellow-poplar
    59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
    61  River birch - sycamore
    62  Silver maple - American elm
    63  Cottonwood
    65  Pin oak - sweetgum
    73  Southern redcedar
    74  Cabbage palmetto
    75  Shortleaf pine
    76  Shortleaf pine - oak
    78  Virginia pine - oak
    79  Virginia pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    85  Slash pine - hardwood
    87  Sweetgum - yellow-poplar
    88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf (laurel) oak
    92  Sweetgum - willow oak
    93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
    95  Black willow
    96  Overcup oak - water hickory
    97  Atlantic white-cedar
    98  Pond pine
   100  Pondcypress
   101  Baldcypress
   103  Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
   104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
   108  Red maple
   109  Hawthorne
   110  Black oak

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K081  Oak savanna
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
   K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest
   K098  Northern floodplain forest
   K099  Maple - basswood forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K101  Elm - ash forest
   K102  Beech - maple forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods (seral stages)
   K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest (seral stages)
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest (seral stages)
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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Soils and Topography

Red maple can probably thrive on a wider range of soil types,  textures, moisture, pH, and elevation than any other forest  species in North America (18). Its range covers soils of  the following orders: Entisols, Inceptisols, Ultisols, Alfisols,  Spodosols, and Histosols. It grows on both glaciated and  nonglaciated soils derived from granite, gneisses, schists,  sandstone, shales, slates, conglomerates, quartzites, and  limestone (26).

    Red maple grows on diverse sites, from dry ridges and southwest  slopes to peat bogs and swamps. It commonly grows under the more  extreme soil-moisture conditions either very wet or quite dry.  The species does not show a strong affinity for either a north or  a south aspect (48). Although it develops best on  moderately well-drained, moist sites at low to intermediate  elevations, it is common in mountainous country on the drier  ridges and on south and west exposures of upper slopes. It is  also common, however, in swampy areas, on slow-draining flats and  depressions, and along small sluggish streams (26). In  upper Michigan and New England, red maple grows on ridge tops and  dry sandy or rocky upland soils and in almost pure stands on  moist soils and swamp borders (13,40). In the extreme  south, red maple is almost exclusively a swamp species.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

The northern extent of the red maple range coincides with the -40°  C (-40° F) mean minimum isotherm in southeastern  Canada (11). The western range is limited by the dry  climate of the Prairie States. Of all the maples, it has the  widest tolerance to climatic conditions. The absence of red maple  in the Prairie Peninsula does not seem to be related to  precipitation amount because the tree grows elsewhere with  similar or less annual precipitation.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Dispersal

Establishment

Red maple is a prolific seed producer and trees as young as four years may begin to bear seeds. Good seed crops are usually produced in alternate years. Seedbed requirements are minimal and up to 95% of viable seeds germinate in the first 10 days; some survive in the duff and germinate the following year. Because the mature seeds are dispersed in spring and can germinate immediately, seedlings can become established with a 3-4 month advantage over most associated woody species. A bank of persistent seedlings often accumulates beneath a forest canopy.

Seedlings can survive 3-5 years of moderate shade, but establishment and early growth are best after disturbance. Male (staminate) trees may grow faster than female ones. Average longevity for red maple is about 80-100 years, but trees are known to reach 200 years of age.

Vegetative reproduction under natural conditions is common from sprouts from the stump or root crown or root suckers after fire or mechanical damage. Buds located at the base of stems commonly sprout 2-6 weeks after the stem is cut.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Red Maple is the preferred host of Itame pustularia (Red Maple Spanworm) and Parallelia bistriaris (Maple Looper Moth); the caterpillars of these moths feed on the foliage. Other moth caterpillars that feed on Red Maple and other maples include Acronicta inclara (Unclear Dagger Moth), Hypena baltimoralis (Baltimore Bomolocha), Cameraria aceriella (Maple Leaf-Blotch Miner), and many other species (see Moth Table). Other small insects suck plant juices from these trees; these species include aphids (Drepanaphis spp. & others), leafhoppers (Eratoneura macraErythridula hamata, & others), and such scale insects as Pulvinaria acericola (Maple Leaf Scale), Pulvinaria vitis (Cottony Maple Scale), and Lepidosaphes ulmi (Oystershell Scale). Other insect feeders include the plant bugs Coccobaphes frontifer and Lygocoris vitticollis, larvae of many wood-boring beetles (see Wood-Boring Beetle Table), and the larvae of Dasineura communis (Maple Gouty Vein-Gall Midge). Vertebrate animals use Red Maple and other maples as a source of food, nesting habitat, and cover. Some upland gamebirds (Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Bobwhite, etc.) and songbirds (Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, etc.) eat the seeds and buds, while the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drills holes into the bark to feed on sap (see Bird Table). Woodpeckers and other insectivorous songbirds often search for the many insects that feed on maples; these insects are especially important in feeding young nestlings. Twigs and sometimes the leaves of Red Maple are browsed by White-Tailed Deer and Elk, primarily during the winter when other foods are scarce; the leaves of this tree are reportedly toxic to cattle and horses. The Cottontail Rabbit sometimes eats the seedlings, while tree squirrels occasionally eat the seeds. The cavities of older trees are used as nesting habitat by some birds (Screech Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Duck, Northern Flicker, Tree Swallow) and tree squirrels (Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Red Squirrel); such cavities are also used by various tree-roosting bats.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Pholiota aurivella is saprobic on dead, fallen, decayed trunk (large) of Acer rubrum

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Associated Forest Cover

Red maple is a major or an associated species in 56 of the 88  nontropical forest cover types recognized for the eastern United  States (13). Red maple forms a pure cover type (Society  of American Foresters Type 108) because it makes up at least 80  percent of the stand basal area. The species is also at least 20  percent of Gray Birch-Red Maple (Type 19), White Pine-Northern  Red Oak-Red Maple (Type 20), Black Cherry-Maple (Type 28), and  Black Ash-American Elm-Red Maple (Type 39).

    The red maple is most common in New England, Middle Atlantic  States, upper Michigan, and northeast Wisconsin. It is rare  farther west and south. Recognition of red maple as a separate  cover type generally is attributed to disturbances that allowed  red maple residuals to respond rapidly. The elimination of elm  (Ulmus americana and U. thomasii) by Dutch elm  disease and of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) by  the blight, and selective removal of yellow birch (Betula  alleghaniensis) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) have  contributed to increasing the proportion of red maple stocking in  many stands (13,40,48).

    Throughout its range, red maple is associated with more than 70  different commercial tree species (26). Its more common  associates from the north to the south include red spruce (Picea  rubens), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white pine (Pinus  strobus), sugar maple, beech (Fagus grandifolia), yellow  birch, paper birch (Betula papyrifera), gray birch (B.  populifolia), sweet birch (B. lenta), eastern hemlock  (Tsuga canadensis), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya  virginiana), striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), northern  white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), aspen (Populus  grandidentata and P. tremuloides), black ash (Fraxinus  nigra), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), black  cherry (P serotina), northern red oak (Quercus  rubra), American elm, chestnut oak (Q. prinus), Virginia  pine (Pinus virginiana), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron  tulipifera), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), black  gum (Nyssa sylvatica), swamp white oak (Quercus  bicolor), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) (13).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Red maple is generally considered  very susceptible to defect. Especially on poor sites, red maple  often has poor form and considerable internal defect.  Discoloration and decay advance much faster in red maple than in  sugar maple (43). In northeastern Pennsylvania, average  cull ranged from 13 percent in 30 cm (12 in) diameter red maple  trees to 46 percent in 61 cm (24 in) diameter trees. Only  associated beech and black birch were more defective (26).

    Sprout clumps present some serious problems. More defects  originate from branch stubs on the sprout stems than from the  parent stump (43). Inonotus glomeratus can infect branch  stubs and wounds above the butt in red maple. Nevertheless, a red  maple sprout with only a slightly defective base and small and  well-healed branch stubs has a potential for high future value.  Criteria for selecting red maple sprouts for thinning are (1)  select only stems with small, well-healed branch stubs, (2)  reject sprout clumps with defective bases, and (3) cut all but  one or two of the best dominant stem sprouts (50).

    Many trunk rot fungi and stem diseases attack red maple. Inonotus  glomeratus infects branch stubs and wounds on the stem and is  most important. Second in importance is Oxyporus populinuswhich forms a small, white fruit body that often has moss  growing on top. Phellinus igniarius is another leading  heart rot of red maple. Red maple may also be cankered by species  of Nectria, Eutypella, Hypoxylon, Schizoxylon, Strumellaand others (48).

    Red maple is susceptible to many leaf diseases, generally of minor  importance. It is seldom or seriously damaged by root diseases,  although Armillana mellea can enter through root or butt  wounds. However, A. mellea kills only trees already  weakened from other causes (18).

    Mechanical injury is a common source of defect in hardwoods, and  red maple is especially sensitive to wounding. Often, large areas  of cambium surrounding the wound will die back. In shade tree  maintenance, wound dressings have not proven effective in  stimulating wound closure or internal compartmentalization of the  damaged area (44). Increment boring causes discoloration  and may lead to decay in red maple. Callus growth, when  established, is reasonably rapid, but an extra year or two often  is needed if cambial dieback has been extensive around the wound  (26). Red maple was rated intermediate with respect to amount of  damage after a severe glaze storm in Pennsylvania. In one study,  major damage was sustained by 41 percent of the black cherry, 16  percent of the red maple, and 5 percent of the hemlock (18).

    Many different insects feed on red maple, but probably none of  them kill healthy trees. They do reduce vigor and growth leaving  the tree more susceptible to attack from fungi. Insect feeding  also may hasten the death of weakened trees. Susceptibility to  insect attack is illustrated by a study in the Piedmont. Of 40  species investigated, red maple had the highest percentage (79  percent) of insect attacks. Among the more important borers  attacking red maple were the gallmaking maple borer (Xylotreehus  aceris), the maple callus borer (Synanthedon acerni),  and the Columbian timber beetle (Corthylus columbianus).  The common scale insects included the cottony maple scale  (Pulvinaria vitis), the maple leaf scale (P  acericola), and the oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes  ulmi). The common leaf feeding moths were the gypsy moth (Lymantria  dispar), the linden looper (Erannis tiliaria), the  elm spanworm (Ennomos subsignaria), and the red maple  spanworm (Itame pustularia). The forest tent caterpillar  (Malacosoma disstria) avoids red maple, however (26).

    Red maple is very sensitive to fire injury, and even large trees  can be killed by a fire of moderate intensity. The fire-killed  trees sprout vigorously, however, and red maple may become a more  important stand component after a fire than before one (26).

    Red maple is a desirable deer food and reproduction may be almost  completely suppressed in areas of excessive deer populations.  Snowshoe hares may also reduce the amount of red maple  reproduction (26).

    If sapsuckers attack red maple, ringshake may develop (42).  Sapsucker damage may also result in mortality Healthy as well  as unhealthy trees are attacked and nearly 40 percent of the  trees attacked may be killed (41).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Numerous EOs throughout its range.

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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General Ecology

Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, prescribed fire, tree

Red maple is reportedly common on burned lands in the Maritime Provinces
[82], boreal forests on northern Minnesota [12,51,96], and hardwood
forests of the Allegheny Mountains [50].  However, it is rarely observed
on burned sites in Rhode Island [14] and was reported to be greatly
reduced by prescribed fire in northern Indiana woodlands [18].

On the George Washington National Forest, West Virginia, a spring prescribed
fire increased red maple density in a mixed-hardwood forest. Average red maple
seedling densities before fire and in postfire year 5 were 132 and 368
seedlings/acre, respectively; red maple sprout densities were 1,368
sprouts/acre before and 1,395 sprouts/acre 5 years after the fire. See the
Research Paper
of Wendel and Smith's [103] study for details on the fire
prescription and fire effects on red maple and 6 other tree species.

The following Research Project Summaries
provide further information on prescribed

fire use and postfire response of plant
community species, including red

maple, that was not available when this
species review was originally

written:
  • 12. Books, David J. 1972. Little Sioux Burn: year two. Naturalist. 23(3&4): 2-7. [11550]
  • 14. Brown, James H., Jr. 1960. The role of fire in altering the species composition of forests in Rhode Island. Ecology. 41(2): 310-316. [5935]
  • 18. Cole, Kenneth L.; Benjamin, Pamela K.; Klick, Kenneth F. 1990. The effects of prescribed burning on oak woods and prairies in the Indiana Dunes. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1): 37-38. [13552]
  • 50. Hough, A. F.; Forbes, R. D. 1943. The ecology and silvics of forests in the high plateaus of Pennsylvania. Ecological Monographs. 13(3): 299-320. [8723]
  • 51. Irwin, Larry L. 1985. Foods of moose, Alces alces, and white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, on a burn in boreal forest. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 99(2): 240-245. [4513]
  • 82. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 96. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 103. Wendel, G. W.; Smith, H. Clay. 1986. Effects of a prescribed fire in a central Appalachian oak-hickory stand. NE-RP-594. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 8 p. [73936]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: density

Fire can stimulate sprouting of dormant red maple buds located on the
root crown [97].  Trees top-killed by fire often sprout vigorously and
assume increased prominence in postfire stands [85].  Seedlings also
sprout and may produce dense sprout clumps following fire [93].

Regrowth following fire is often rapid.  Regrowth begins during the
first month following summer and fall burns, and significant increases
in stem density occur by the third and fourth postfire months.  Martin
[74] observed red maple sprouts 2 weeks after a July fire in Nova
Scotia.  Red maple establishes through seed from June through August
[33].  Postfire increases in stem density commonly promotes red maple's
dominance within a stand [68].
  • 33. Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1988. Regrowth of forest understory species following seasonal burning. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66: 150-155. [3014]
  • 68. McGee, Charles E. 1980. The effect of fire on species dominance in young upland hardwood stands. In: Proceedings, mid-south upland hardwood symposium for the practicing forester and land manager; [Date of conference unknown]
  • 74. Martin, J. Lynton. 1955. Observations on the origin and early development of a plant community following a forest fire. Forestry Chronicle. 31: 154-161. [11363]
  • 85. Scheiner, Samuel M.; Sharik, Terry L.; Roberts, Mark R.; Vande Kopple, Robert. 1988. Tree density and modes of tree recruitment in a Michigan pine-hardwood forest after clear-cutting and burning. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 102(4): 634-638. [8718]
  • 93. Swan, Frederick R., Jr. 1970. Post-fire response of four plant communities in south-central New York state. Ecology. 51(6): 1074-1082. [3446]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the terms: resistance, series

Season of burn:  Late spring or early summer burns are most damaging to
understory hardwoods such as red maple [48].  A series of consecutive
annual late spring and early summer burns killed the rootstocks of
progressively more individuals; however, as many as five consecutive
annual winter burns had no effect on sprouting ability of top-killed
hardwoods [48].

Bark:  Bark of red maple is intermediate in resistance to fire [46].
Mean number of seconds required for the cambium to reach 140 degrees (60
deg C) (often considered a lethal temperature) are as follows [46]:

        Bark thickness          Seconds
        0.20 inch                20.0
        0.30 inch                56.8
        0.40 inch               117.6
  • 46. Hare, Robert C. 1965. Contribution of bark to fire resistance of southern trees. Journal of Forestry. 63(4): 248-251. [9915]
  • 48. Hodgkins, Earl J. 1958. Effects of fire on undergrowth vegetation in upland southern pine forests. Ecology. 39(1): 36-46. [7632]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: fire severity, severity

Red maple is intolerant of fire; even large individuals can be killed by
moderate fires [97].  Postfire mortality is relatively high for
saplings, but because bark becomes thicker and more fire-resistant with
age, mortality is much lower for sawtimber [98].  The effects of fire
also vary with fire severity, season of burn, and various site factors.
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]
  • 98. Ward, Jeffrey S.; Stephens, George R. 1989. Long-term effects of a 1932 surface fire on stand structure in a Connecticut mixed hardwood forest. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 267-273. [9389]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: root crown

   survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
   off-site colonizer; seed carried by wind; postfire yrs 1 and 2

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire suppression, restoration, root crown

Red maple is a common fire type in the Acadian Forest of New Brunswick,
where mean fire intervals have been estimated at 370 years [32].  In the
New Jersey Pine Barrens, mean fire intervals averaged 20 years in the
early 1900's, but due to a variety of factors including fire suppression
and increased prescribed burning, now average 65 years [34].  Red maple
regeneration in the Pine Barrens is favored in the absence of fire [34].
In upland oak forests of central Pennsylvania fire suppression has led
to the replacement of oaks by red maple, beech, black cherry, and sugar
maple [71].

Red maple has also increased in the absence of fire throughout much of
the Southeast [11].  In parts of the Appalachians, fire suppression has
allowed maple stems to grow large enough and develop bark thick enough
to enable them to survive fires [47].  As a result, restoration to
presettlement conditions would be "a very long-term process" [47].

Red maple sprouts vigorously from the root crown after aboveground
vegetation is killed by fire [87].  Seedling establishment may also
occur [87].
  • 11. Blair, Robert M.; Brunett, Louis E. 1976. Phytosociological changes after timber harvest in a southern pine ecosystem. Ecology. 57: 18-32. [9646]
  • 32. Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany. 55: 2550-2554. [6362]
  • 34. Forman, Richard T. T.; Boerner, Ralph E. 1981. Fire frequency and the pine barrens of New Jersey. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 108(1): 34-50. [8645]
  • 47. Harmon, Mark E. 1984. Survival of trees after low-intensity surface fires in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ecology. 65(3): 796-802. [10997]
  • 71. Hanks, Sidney H. 1969. Birch nursery practice. In: The birch symposium: Proceedings; 1969 August 19-21; Durham, NH. Res. Pap. NE-146. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 83-85. [15351]
  • 87. Sidhu, S. S. 1973. Early effects of burning and logging in pine-mixed woods. I. Frequency and biomass of minor vegetation. Inf. Rep. PS-X-46. Chalk River, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Petawawa Forest Experiment Station. 47 p. [7901]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, tree

Red maple is characterized by a wide ecological amplitude and occupies a
wide range of successional stages [54,83].  It is moderately tolerant of
shade in the North but intolerant of shade in the Piedmont [97].  Red
maple commonly grows as a subclimax or mid-seral species [20,97], but
characteristics such as vigorous sprouting, prolific seeding, and
ability to compete enable it to pioneer on a variety of disturbed sites
[54,97].  This tree lives longer than most seral species [97] but
generally does not persist in late successional stages [65].  In
even-aged stands which develop after clearcutting, red maple is commonly
overtopped by faster growing species such as northern red oak [65].  In
a few locations in the Southeast, it grows as a climax dominant in
wet-site communities [76].

Red maple commonly increases after disturbances such as windthrow,
clearcutting, or fire [97].  In many locations, red maple has increased
in importance since presettlement times.  Dutch elm disease and chestnut
blight have led to increases in the number of red maple stems in many
stands [97].  In many parts of the East, red maple has increased in gaps
resulting from oak decline and gypsy moth infestations [43,65].
  • 20. Curtis, J. T.; McIntosh, R. P. 1951. An upland forest continuum in the prairie-forest border region of Wisconsin. Ecology. 32: 476-496. [6927]
  • 43. Hammitt, William E.; Barnes, Burton V. 1989. Composition and structure of an old-growth oak-hickory forest in southern Michigan over 20 years. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 247-253. [9386]
  • 54. Johnson, James E.; Haag, Carl L.; Bockheim, James G.; Erdmann, Gayne G. 1987. Soil-site relationships and soil characteristics associated with even-aged red maple (Acer rubrum) stands in Wisconsin and Michigan. Forest Ecology and Management. 21: 75-89. [12437]
  • 65. Lorimer, Craig G. 1984. Development of the red maple understory in northeastern oak forests. Forest Science. 30(1): 3-22. [12565]
  • 76. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]
  • 83. Sakai, Ann K. 1990. Sex ratios of red maple (Acer rubrum) populations in northern lower Michigan. Ecology. 7(2): 571-580. [11370]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: duff, root collar

Seed:  Red maple can bear seed as early as 4 years of age [78] and
produces good or better seed crops over most of its range in 1 out of 2
years [39].  Bumper seed crops do occur.  Trees are extremely prolific;
individual trees 2 to 8 inches (5-20 cm) in diameter commonly produce
12,000 to 91,000 seeds annually, and trees 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter
can produce nearly 1,000,000 seeds [1].  Seed is wind dispersed [97].

Seed banking:  In parts of Nova Scotia and Minnesota, red maple seed has
been found buried at depths of 0 to 6 inches (0-16 cm) [2,61,81], but
these seeds are usually not viable [2,61].  Up to 95 percent of viable
seed germinates with the first 10 days [1]; some seed survives within
the duff and germinates the following year [30,61].

Seedling establishment:  Seedbed requirements for red maple are minimal
[42], and a bank of persistent seedlings often accumulates beneath a
forest canopy [97].  Seedlings may number more than 11,000 per acre
(44,534/ha) [69] and can survive for 3 to 5 years under moderate shade
[73].

Vegetative regeneration:  Red maple sprouts vigorously from the stump,
root crown, or "root suckers" after fire or mechanical damage
[32,96,97].  Lees [62] observed that at least three generations of stump
sprouts can "thrive on the same regenerating root system."  Buds located
at the base of stems commonly sprout 2 to 6 weeks after the stem is cut
[97].  Mroz and others [77] reported that sprouting is generally
confined to the root collar.
  • 2. Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1979. Buried seed in the forest floor of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Minnesota Forestry Research Note No. 271. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, College of Forestry. 4 p. [3459]
  • 1. Abbott, Herschel G. 1974. Some characteristics of fruitfulness and seed germination in red maple. Tree Planters' Notes. 25(2): 25-27. [12435]
  • 30. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Cunningham, Maureen. 1981. Seed dormancy of red maple in east Tennessee. Forest Science. 27(3): 446-448. [12440]
  • 32. Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany. 55: 2550-2554. [6362]
  • 39. Godman, Richard M.; Mattson, Gilbert A. 1976. Seed crops and regeneration problems of 19 species in northeastern Wisconsin. Res. Pap. NC-123. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 5 p. [3715]
  • 42. Haag, Carl L.; Johnson, James E.; Erdmann, Gayne G. 1989. Rooting depths of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) on various sites in the Lake States. NC-347. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [12494]
  • 61. Lees, John C. 1987. Clearcutting as an even-aged reproduction method. In: Nyland, Ralph D., editor. Managing northern hardwoods: Proceedings of a silvicultural symposium; 1986 June 23-25; Syracuse, NY. Faculty of Forestry Miscellaneous Publication No. 13 (ESF 87-002); Society of American Foresters Publication No. 87-03. Syracuse, NY: State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry: 115-127. [10652]
  • 62. Lees, J. C. 1981. Three generations of red maple stump sprouts. Information Report M-X. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Maritimes Forest Research Centre, Canadian Forestry Service, Environment Canada. 9 p. [12754]
  • 69. McGee, Charles E.; Hooper, Ralph M. 1970. Regeneration after clearcutting in the southern Appalachians. Res. Pap. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 12 p. [10886]
  • 73. Marquis, David A.; Gearhart, Porter. 1983. Cherry-maple. In: Burns, Russell M., tech. comp. Silvicultural systems for the major forest types of the United States. Agric. Handb. No. 445. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 137-140. [12655]
  • 77. Mroz, G. D.; Frederick, D. J.; Jurgensen, M. F. 1985. Site and fertilizer effects on northern hardwood stump sprouting. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 15(3): 535-543. [12538]
  • 78. Olson, David F., Jr.; Gabriel, W. J. 1974. Acer L. maple. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 187-194. [7462]
  • 81. Roberts, H. A. 1981. Seed banks in soils. Applied Biology. 5: 1-55. [2002]
  • 96. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the terms: chamaephyte, hemicryptophyte, phanerophyte

   Undisturbed State:  Phanerophyte (mesophanerophyte)
   Burned or Clipped State:  Chamaephyte
   Burned or Clipped State:  Hemicryptophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Fire Management Considerations

Protein content of red maple commonly increases on burned sites[22].
Low-intensity fires produced increases in protein levels during the
first postfire season, but no increases were noted the following season.
High-intensity fires produced significant increases in protein levels
during both the first and second seasons [22].  Dills [101] reported,
however, that burning had no effect on the nutritive content of red
maple browse.
  • 22. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 101. Dills, Gary G. 1970. Effects of prescribed burning on deer browse. Journal of Wildlife Management. 34(3): 540-545. [218]

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Reaction to Competition

Red maple is a pioneer or  subclimax species that is more shade tolerant and longer lived  than the usual early successional species, such as poplar (aspen)  and pin cherry. It compares in shade tolerance with sycamore (Platanus  occidentalis), silver maple, American basswood (Tilia  americana), common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), black  gum, and rock elm (Ulmus thomasii). It is not as tolerant  as sugar maple, American beech, eastern hophornbeam, and  flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) (26). Red maple can  most accurately be classed as tolerant of shade. Seedlings are  more shade tolerant than larger trees and can exist in the  understory for several years. They respond rapidly to release and  can occupy over-story space. Disturbances such as fire, disease,  hurricanes, and harvesting have caused red maple to increase in  stocking where it previously occurred as only scattered trees  (19,31,35,40,48,55). As these stands mature and the  canopy closes, red maple growth slows due to competition for  light (9).

    Following a hurricane in central New England, the site was soon  dominated by pin cherry, with red maple, northern red oak, paper  birch, and a few eastern white pine. After 10 years, the pin  cherry was giving way to dominance by red maple. After 40 years,  however, northern red oak and paper birch had assumed dominance  over the now codominant red maple (19). In northern  hardwood types, red maple begins to give way to sugar maple and  more tolerant hardwoods after about 80 years (26), but on  certain wet sites, red maple can probably maintain itself  indefinitely as an edaphic climax (13).

    Red maple is generally very resistant to herbicides (28). Also,  diffuse porous species such as red maple are difficult to kill by  girdling. For example, 3 years after treatment, 70 percent of the  girdled trees had live crowns (63). Stem injection, using  cacodylic acid(12) and picloram (61), did  successfully control red maple as did glyphosate applied by  hydraulic sprayer; but not when applied by a mist blower (16).  Generally, if treatment of red maple is planned, it is wise  to consult current labels or experts in the field of chemical  control to determine the latest allowable chemicals and the best  methods of application.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

Red maple trees grow well and are  generally capable of growing as well as or better than  their associates on sites with less than optimum moisture  conditions, either too wet or too dry. In Michigan, red maple  sprouts grew about twice as fast on wet organic soils as on  mineral soils or drier organic soils (26). Roots of maple  seedlings are capable of developing differently in response to  various environments, so that the seedlings can survive in  situations ranging from swamp to dry upland. This characteristic  root system adaptability is maintained as the trees grow older.  Under flood conditions, many adventitious roots develop, but the  root systems recover quickly upon drainage (24). Red maples seem  to tolerate drought through their readiness to stop growing under  dry conditions (52) and by producing a second growth  flush when conditions improve again, even after growth has  stopped for 2 weeks (27).

    Red maple roots are primarily horizontal and form in the upper 25  cm (10 in) of soil. After germination, a taproot develops until  it is about 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in) long, then it turns and grows  horizontally. As the woody roots extend sideways, nonwoody fans  of feeder roots extend upward, mostly within the upper 8 cm (3  in) of mineral soil. The woody roots may be 25 m (80 ft) long  (34). Although red maple trees and seedlings tolerate flooding,  they can be damaged if silt and sand layers 7.6 cm (3 in) or more  are deposited over their roots (6).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

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Red maple is one of the first trees to flower in early spring [97].
Specific flowering dates are largely dependent on weather conditions,
and latitude and elevation [8,97].  Flowers generally appear several
weeks before vegetative buds.  Bud break may be affected by soil
factors, and is typically delayed for 7 to 10 days on copper-, lead-,
and zinc-mineralized sites [9].  Fruit matures in spring before leaf
development is complete [39,97].

Generalized fruiting and flowering dates by geographic location are as
follows:

Location             Flowering           Fruiting        Authority

Adirondack Mtns.       Apr                  June         Chapman &
                                                         Bessette 1990
Blue Ridge Mtns.      Feb-Mar               ----         Wofford 1989
FL Panhandle          Jan-Apr               ----         Clewell 1985
Gulf & Atlantic
      Coasts          Jan-May               ----         Duncan & Duncan
                                                          1987
MD                    Mar-Apr               ----         Batra 1985
MA                     ----          mid May-early June  Abbott 1974
MI               late Apr-early May         ----         Sakai 1990
NC, SC                Jan-Mar            Apr-July        Radford & others 1968
e TN                   ----          mid-May-early Apr   Farmer &
                                                         Cunningham 1981
TX                     Feb                  ----         Simpson 1988
Nova Scotia      late Apr-early May         ----         Roland & Smith 1969
  • 8. Batra, S. W. T. 1985. Red maple (Acer rubrum L.), an important early spring food resource for honey bees and other insects. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 58(1): 169-172. [12666]
  • 9. Bell, R.; Labovitz, M. L.; Sullivan, D. P. 1985. Delay in leaf flush associated with a heavy metal-enriched soil. Economic Geology. 80: 1407-1414. [11014]
  • 39. Godman, Richard M.; Mattson, Gilbert A. 1976. Seed crops and regeneration problems of 19 species in northeastern Wisconsin. Res. Pap. NC-123. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 5 p. [3715]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Red maple stumps sprout  vigorously. Inhibited, dormant buds are always present at the  base of red maple stems. Within 2 to 6 weeks after the stem is  cut, these inhibited buds begin to extend (65). Fire can  also stimulate these buds. The number of sprouts per stump  increases with stump diameter to a maximum of 23 to 30 cm (9 to  12 in), and then decreases among larger trees. Stumps of younger  trees tend to produce taller sprouts (39,47). Sprouts grow faster  than seedlings, and leaf and internode size is greater. As  competition increases, growth rates slow (65). Many of  the sprouts have rot and poor form (58). Also, the  attachment of a sprout to the stump is often weak because the  base of the sprout grows over the stump bark and the vascular  connection between them is constricted (65). Regeneration  by seedling sprout may be especially successful (19). Generally,  the species' great sprouting capacity makes it suitable for  coppicing and accounts for its tendency to be found in sprout  clumps.

    Red maple is difficult to propagate from cuttings and success  varies considerably. Some rooting has been obtained by treating  cuttings with a concentration of 200 mg per liter (200 p/m) of  indolebutyric acid for 3 hours. Cuttings collected in June seem  to root better than those taken later in the growing season.  Cuttings from the lower part of the crown root better than those  from the upper part, and cuttings from male clones or female  clones, which fruit sparingly, root better. Successful bud  grafting on an experimental basis has been reported with red  maple and with sugar maple on red maple stocks, and layering has  been observed in central Pennsylvania. For the most part,  however, the species is difficult to propagate vegetatively,  except by means of stump sprouts (26).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

Source: Silvics of North America

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Seedling Development

Red maple has few  germination requirements. The seed can germinate with very little  light (26), given proper temperature and some moisture.  Most seeds generally germinate in the early summer soon after  dispersal. Shading by a dense overstory canopy can depress  first-year germination; then second-year germination is common  (36). Germination is epigeal (59).

    Moist mineral soil seems the best seedbed for red maple,  and a thin layer of hardwood leaf litter does not hinder  germination and early survival. Many red maple seeds germinate  each year in abandoned old fields, in cutover areas and burns,  and in the forest. Reproduction has also been observed on  strip-mine Spoil banks in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio  (26). Not many new seedlings can survive under a closed  forest canopy, but enough do survive to perpetuate the species in  abundance.

    Presently, red maple is important in many stands where it was  formerly a limited associate; it is enabled to increase by  disturbances such as disease, windthrow, fire, and harvesting  (5,15,19,3740). In southeastern Ohio, 6 years after  clearcutting a 3.4 ha (8.5 acre) mature oak-hickory stand, the  new stand contained more than 2,200 red maple seedlings per  hectare (900/acre) taller than 1.4 m (4.5 ft), together with many  yellow-poplar and oak seedlings (Unpub. data, Vinton Furnace  Experimental Forest, McArthur, OH). The original stand on the  plot contained no red maple. There were occasional red maples in  nearby stands. Red maple does not show a strong affinity for  either northern or southern exposures (48), but its best  growth form is often found on northeast slopes (40). The  young seedlings are shade tolerant, and abundant 1- to 4-year-old  seedlings are often found under the canopy of older stands. Many  of these seedlings die each year if they are not released by  opening of the main crown canopy, but new ones replace them.  Thus, a reservoir of seedlings and ungerminated seed is available  to respond to increased sunlight resulting from disturbance.  Pre-existing red maples in a cut stand add greatly to the new  stand stocking through stump sprouts (21). In some  species, disturbances of small areas often restrict development  of new age classes because the canopy over small areas closes in  from the side too quickly. Red maple, however, is sufficiently  shade tolerant to respond and may increase in prominence after  small disturbances (20,37).

    Red maple shows an early tendency to develop root system  characteristics according to soil conditions, enabling it to grow  on greatly different sites ranging from swamp to dry upland (62).  On wet sites, red maple seedlings produce short taproots with  long, well-developed laterals. On dry sites, they develop long  taproots with much shorter laterals (26). Red maple seedlings are  classified as moderately tolerant of soil saturation. In one  study, their growth was only slightly retarded after 60 days in  saturated soils (24). Red maple seedlings were very tolerant of  flooding, showing no sign of stem or leaf damage after 60 days of  flooding (7). This capacity to withstand conditions of wetness or  dryness enables survival and growth on a wide variety of site  conditions where red maple grows naturally.

    Throughout the northern portion of its range, with respect to  shade, red maple seedlings are rated moderately tolerant to  tolerant and are often abundant in the understory advance  reproduction. In the Piedmont, red maple seedlings were found to  be shade intolerant however; and, in the lower Mississippi Basin,  red maple seedlings grow well only in openings. The species was  found to be more shade tolerant on good sites than on poor sites.  Overall, it ranks more shade tolerant than yellow birch or white  ash (Fraxinus americana) but less so than sugar maple,  American beech, or eastern hophornbeam (26).

    Sugar maple is one of the first species to start stem elongation  in the spring, and red maple starts only a few days later. In one  study, red maple stem elongation was one-half completed in 1  week. Growth then slowed and was 90 percent completed in 54 days  (27). Under favorable light and moisture, red maple seedlings can  grow 0.3 m (1 ft) the first year and as much as 0.6 m (2 ft) each  year for the next few years. Some sprouts can grow 0.9 m (3 ft)  or more the first year (26), but they soon slow to about the same  rate as seedlings.

    Although red maple naturally germinates and becomes established on  many types of seedbeds, direct seeding in an old field failed.  Survival was only 37 percent after the first year (2). Planting  of seedlings has not succeeded on strip-mine spoil banks (26) or  old fields (45). First year survival generally is low and  survivors may show poor growth rate and form. Planted red maple  infected with mycorrhizae may grow somewhat better, especially on  strip-mine spoil banks (10). In the nursery, red maple  seedling growth was increased when 4 hours of supplemental light  and an aluminum foil soil mulch were provided, and when the soil  was treated with the insecticide Disulfoton. In 1 year, these  seedlings compared favorably with 2- to 3-year-old seedlings  grown by conventional methods (8). If planting of red  maple is desired, container-grown stock seems to offer some  promise. Ninety-eight percent of the red maple tubelings planted  in a New Hampshire forest clearcutting during August survived.  The stock had been grown for 8 weeks in containers. Two container  sizes-41 cm³ (2.5 in³) and 125 cm³ (7.6 in³)  were compared, with no difference in results (17).

    Red maple is a common associate in second-growth cherry-maple  Allegheny hardwood stands. But after clearcutting, red maple  seedlings often grow poorly, whereas the black cherry seedlings  do well. A chemical from black cherry, perhaps benzoic acid, may  interfere with red maple development (22). Black cherry  leaves have been identified as a source of benzoic acid and as a  potential allelopathic inhibitor of red maple (23).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

A seed crop occurs  almost every year, and on an average, a good to bumper crop  occurs once in every 2 years (14). Red maple is generally  very fruitful. Trees 5 to 20 cm in d.b.h. (2 to 8 in) can yield  seed crops of 12,000 to 91,000 seeds. A 30-cm (12-in) tree  yielded nearly a million seeds (1). It is possible to  stimulate red maple seed production through fertilization. The  stimulation often lasts 2 years and may yield up to 10 times more  seeds than an unfertilized stand (4).

    The fruit, a double samara, ripens from April to June before leaf  development is complete. After ripening, seeds are dispersed for  a 1- to 2-week period during April through July. The seed does  not require pregermination treatment and can germinate  immediately after ripening. The fruits are among the lightest of  the maple fruits, averaging about 51,000 cleaned seeds per  kilogram (23,OOOflb). In general, fruits are heavier in northern  latitudes. Red maple fruit from Canada, Wisconsin, and Michigan,  where the normal growing season is 80 to 150 days, averaged 23 gr  (1.5 g)/100 fruits. On the other hand, in Rhode Island, Kentucky,  and South Carolina, with a frost-free period of 180 to 240 days,  the weight averaged 17 gr (1.1 g)/100 fruits. Because the fruits  are small and winged, they disperse efficiently in the wind.  Germination may be 75 to 80 percent in 2 to 6 days. Total  germination is often 85 to 91 percent (59,66).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Red maple is a short- to  medium-lived tree and seldom lives longer than 150 years. It  reaches maturity in 70 to 80 years. Average mature trees are 18  to 27 m (60 to 90 ft) in height and 46 to 76 cm (18 to 30 in) in  diameter (26). The largest registered living red maple is growing  near Armada, MI. It is 38.1 m (125 ft) tall and has a bole  circumference, at breast height, of 4.95 m (16.25 ft) (38).

    Although red maple height growth starts relatively early in the  spring, radial growth starts late in the season. Radial growth  then proceeds rapidly, becoming half complete in 50 to 59 days  and fully complete in 70 to 79 days. In a New York study, red  maple total height growth was somewhat better than that of the  other species studied (26).

    Growth during early life is rapid but slows after trees pass the  pole stage. Red maple responds well to thinning. In upper  Michigan, thinning was more effective than fertilization for  stimulating red maple growth (49). In the Canadian Maritimes, a  35-year-old coppice red maple stand was thinned by reducing each  sprout clump to one of the better stems. The number of red maple  stems was reduced from 2,610 to 560/ha (1,057 to 227/acre). Ten  years later, these residual trees had more than doubled their  volume to 63.8 m³/ha (911 ft³/acre). In another study,  a partial cutting was made on a 40-year-old stand of Allegheny  northern hardwoods. Of all the species, red maple grew best. In  the 10-year period after cutting, dominant red maple trees grew  an average of 5.7 cm (2.25 in) in diameter. In the north, the  young red maple trees grow faster than sugar maple, beech, or  yellow birch, but slower than aspen, paper birch, or white ash.  In southern bottom lands, the growth rate of red maple compares  favorably with that of other hardwood species. An average  diameter growth of 7.5 to 9 cm (3.0 to 3.5 in) in 10 years is  possible (26).

    Early crop tree release of red maple seedlings and sprouts is  feasible in young, even-aged stands. It should be done when the  new stand has crown closure and crown dominance is being  expressed. This occurred on 9- to 12-year-old trees in West  Virginia (56,57). Only 10 percent of red maple sprout  clumps did not have a sprout of potential crop tree quality (29).  Released red maple trees have a low susceptibility to epicormic  sprouting (46).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

As might be expected from its wide range, red maple shows great  variation in height, cold hardiness, straightness, time of  flushing, onset of dormancy, and other traits. In general, red  maples in the north show the most reddish autumn color, earliest  flushing and bud set, and least winter injury. Seeds from the  north-central and east-central range produce the tallest  seedlings. Genetic potential has been found for breeding and  selecting red maple against three major urban stresses:  verticillium wilt, air pollution, and drought (52,53). Red  maple fruits also exhibit geographical variation. The more  northerly sources, from locations with short frost-free periods,  produced samaras that are shorter but heavier than those from  southern sources (51,66).

    Experimental crosses of red and silver maple have been made (26).  Also, red maple is known to hybridize naturally with silver maple  (33).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Russell S. Walters

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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Acer rubrum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acer rubrum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 24
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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© NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Numerous individuals; wide range; ready colonizer; no major threats.

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values. This species has been introduced in many areas of the U.S., outside of its native range.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: tree

Toxicity:  Red maple browse is toxic to cattle and horses, particularly
during the summer and late fall [5,15,58].

Insects/disease:  Loopers, spanworms, the gallmaking maple borer, maple
callus borer, Columbian timber borer, and various scale insects are
common damaging agents [4,97].  Red maple has experienced periodic
declines in past decades.  Although the precise pathogens have not been
identified, evidence suggests that insects can weaken the trees, making
them more vulnerable to decline [4].

Damage:  Red maple is tolerant of water-logged soils and flooding [3,6]
and is intermediately tolerant of ice damage.  Red maple is susceptible
to decay after mechanical damage.  Butt rot, trunk rot fungi, heart rot,
and stem diseases are common in damaged trees; even increment boring can
cause result in serious decay.

Pollution:  Red maple is relatively tolerant of landfill-contaminated
gases [6], but ambient air pollution can damage the foliage [57].  Red
maple persists in industrially damaged woodlands near Sudbury, Ontario,
despite the accumulation of heavy metals in the soil [52].

Chemical control:  Red maple is resistant to herbicides and girdling
[66,97].  Picloram or cacodylic acid injected directly into the stems
can control red maple.

Silviculture:  Red maple is often poorly regarded as a timber species
due to its susceptibility to defects and disease, and poor form of
individuals of sprout-clump origin [27].  Red maple usually grows
rapidly after heavy cutting or high-grading, and crop tree release may
be a low-cost management option [27].  Mechanical thinning of clumps can
produce good-quality sawlogs on good sites [26].
  • 3. Ahlgren, Clifford E.; Hansen, Henry L. 1957. Some effects of temporary flooding on coniferous trees. Forestry. 55(9): 647-650. [2924]
  • 4. Allen, Douglas C. 1987. Insects, declines and general health of northern hardwoods: issues relevant to good forest management. In: Nyland, Ralph D., editor. Managing northern hardwoods: Proceedings of a silvicultural symposium; 1986 June 23-25; Syracuse, NY. Faculty of Forestry Miscellaneous Publication No. 13 (ESF 87-002); Society of American Foresters Publication No. 87-03. Syracuse, NY: State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry: 252-285. [10659]
  • 5. Anon. 1984. Red maple leaves can kill horses. Crops and Soils Magazine. 36(7): 24. [12737]
  • 6. Arthur, J. J.; Leone, I. A.; Flower, F. B. 1981. Flooding and landfill gas effects on red and sugar maples. Journal of Environmental Quality. 10(4): 431-433. [12555]
  • 15. Burrows, George E.; Tyrl, Ronald J.; Rollins, Dale;. [and others]
  • 26. Erdmann, Gayne G. 1987. Methods of commercial thinning in even-aged northern hardwood stands. In: Nyland, Ralph D., editor. Managing northern hardwoods: Proceedings of a silvicultural symposium; 1986 June 23-25; Syracuse, NY. Faculty of Forestry Miscellaneous Publication No. 13 (ESF 87-002); Society of American Foresters Publication No. 87-03. Syracuse, NY: State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry: 191-210. [10657]
  • 27. Erdmann, Gayne G.; Peterson, Ralph M., Jr.; Oberg, Robert R. 1985. Crown releasing of red maple poles to shorten high-quality sawlog rotations. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 15(4): 694-700. [12624]
  • 52. James, G. I.; Courtin, G. M. 1985. Stand structure and growth form of the birch transition community in an industrially damaged ecosystem, Sudbury, Ontario. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 15(5): 809-817. [12630]
  • 57. Krause, C. R.; Dochinger, L. S. 1987. Sulfur accumulation in red maple leaves exposed to sulfur dioxide. Phytopathology. 77(10): 1438-1441. [12612]
  • 58. Kruzel, Mary Kay. 1981. Red maple - a shady deal. Equus. 44: 64. [12703]
  • 66. Lyman, Gregory T.; Kuhns, Larry J. 1989. Dormant stem herbicide treatments for controlling roadside brush. Proceedings, Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Weed Science Society. 43: 70-71. [12641]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Many cultivars of red maple have been developed. Selections have been made for color tints and brightness, timing of onset of coloration, crown shape and branching pattern, cold hardiness, leaf size, only male flowers (no seeds or seedlings), and leafhopper resistance.

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Red maple is easily transplanted and is one of the easiest trees to grow. It is abundantly available in commerce, in ball-and-burlap and in container, but where other fertile trees grow in the area, volunteers usually are common. Propagation of cultivars is by budding onto seedling understock or rooted stem cuttings – the species form (although rarely propagated) by rooted stem cuttings or by seeds. Softwood cuttings are propagated under mist, using 1000-3000 ppm IBA, in about four weeks.

Despite its value and wide use (even to the point of over-planting in some areas), red maple has some drawbacks as a lawn and street tree. As a street tree, it often becomes too large, and it does not respond well to some urban stresses, particularly protracted drought because of the planting site or long spells of hot dry weather. One of the "soft maples," red maple branches are weak and somewhat brittle and are subject to storm damage. The bark is thin and easily damaged by mechanical impact (including lawn mowers, weed eaters, and even increment boring) as well as fire, allowing entry of various damaging fungi and insects – butt rot, trunk rot fungi, heart rot, and stem diseases are common in damaged trees, although pests and pathogens otherwise are relatively few. As in some other maples, feeder roots develop close to the surface and turf and other shallow-rooted plants must compete directly with the tree for water. Turf beneath the canopy often is stunted and mowing may be difficult because of the protruding roots.

Growth in alkaline soils may lead to leaf chlorosis and a weakly growing tree, especially among the cultivars. Fertilization in spring can help overcome this. Graft incompatibilities have appeared between some cultivars of red maple and their rootstock, the trees often breaking off at the union between scion and rootstock, but propagation by softwood cutting has circumvented this problem.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

This tree is very adaptable, tolerating full sun to light shade, wet to dry conditions, and almost any kind of soil, although it prefers moist loamy soil that is mildly acidic. It grows moderately fast while young, bearing samaras in as little as 5 years. Longevity of mature trees is typically 75-150 years.
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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Maples provide cover for many species of wildlife [78].  The screech
owl, pileated woodpecker, and common flicker nest in cavities in many
species of maple [44].  Cavities in red maples in river floodplain
communities are often well suited for cavity nesters such as the wood
duck [36].  Riparian red maple communities provide autumn roosts for
blackbirds in central Ohio [75].
  • 36. Gilmer, David S.; Ball, I. J.; Cowardin, Lewis M.; [and others]
  • 44. Hardin, Kimberly I.; Evans, Keith E. 1977. Cavity nesting bird habitat in the oak-hickory forests--a review. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-30. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 23 p. [13859]
  • 75. Micacchion, Mick; Townsend, T. W. 1983. Botanical characteristics of autumnal blackbird roosts in central Ohio. Ohio Academy of Sciences. 83(3): 131-135. [5620]
  • 78. Olson, David F., Jr.; Gabriel, W. J. 1974. Acer L. maple. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 187-194. [7462]

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Nutritional Value

The nutrient content of red maple browse varies with the genetic make-up
of the individual plant, plant part, position in the crown, phenological
development, and geographic location [22,28].  Soil moisture, soil
nutrients, fire history, and climatic conditions also influence food
value [22,28,29].
  • 22. DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management. 19(1): 65-70. [7343]
  • 28. Erdmann, Gayne G.; Crow,, Thomas R.; Rauscher, H. Michael. 1988. Foliar nutrient variation and sampling intensity for Acer rubrum trees. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18(1): 134-139. [12622]
  • 29. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]

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Other uses and values

Red maple is characterized by showy fruits and flowers and colorful fall
foliage [25].  Red maple was first cultivated in 1656 [78], and many
cultivars are available [23,63,84].  Red maple can be used to make maple
syrup, although sugar maple is much more commonly used [55,97.
 
  • 23. Dirr, Michael A. 1981. What do we know about cultivars?. American Nurseryman. 154(6): 16-17, 88. [12569]
  • 25. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 63. Lindstrom, Orville, M.; Dirr, Michael A. 1989. Acclimation and low-temperature tolerance of eight woody taxa. HortScience. 24(5): 818-820. [12658]
  • 78. Olson, David F., Jr.; Gabriel, W. J. 1974. Acer L. maple. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 187-194. [7462]
  • 84. Santamour, Frank S., Jr.; McArdle, Alice Jacot. 1982. Checklist of cultivated maples I. Acer rubrum L. Journal of Arboriculture. 84(4): 110-112. [12660]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Red maple can be planted onto many types of disturbed sites.  It can be
propagated by seed or by various vegetative techniques. Cleaned seed
averages approximately 23,000 per pound (51,100/kg).  Red maple is
reported to be somewhat tolerant of municipal landfill leachates [41].
Seedlings have been observed colonizing strip mine spoils in parts of
Maryland, West Virginia, and Florida [45,72], but seedlings transplanted
onto strip-mine spoil banks often do poorly [97].  Direct seeding in
old-field communities has not been successful [97].
  • 41. Gordon, Andrew M.; McBride, Raymond A.; Fisken, Avril J.; Bates, Tom E. 1989. Effect of landfill leachate irrigation on red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) seedl. growth and foliar nut. conc. Environmental Pollution. 56(4): 327-336. [13004]
  • 45. Hardt, Richard A.; Forman, Richard T. T. 1989. Boundary form effects on woody colonization of reclaimed surface mines. Ecology. 70(5): 1252-1260. [9470]
  • 72. Manci, Karen M. 1989. Riparian ecosystem creation and restoration: a literature summary. Biol. Rep.89(20). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 60 p. [11757]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Red maple is browsed by some wildlife species, including white-tailed
deer, moose, elk, and snowshoe hare [97].  It is a particularly valuable
white-tailed deer browse during the late fall and winter, and is
considered an important deer food in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine,
and Minnesota [31,51,60,70,94].  Although red maple is browsed by moose,
it is often only lightly used [19].  Irwin [51], however, reported that
red maple is an important fall and winter moose browse in parts of
northeastern Minnesota.
  • 19. Cumming, H. G. 1987. Sixteen years of moose browse surveys in Ontario. Alces. 23: 125-156. [8859]
  • 31. Fashingbauer, Bernard A.; Moyle, John B. 1963. Nutritive value of red-osier dogwood and mountain maple as deer browse. Minnesota Academy of Science Proceedings. 31(1): 73-77. [9246]
  • 51. Irwin, Larry L. 1985. Foods of moose, Alces alces, and white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, on a burn in boreal forest. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 99(2): 240-245. [4513]
  • 60. Lapierre, L. E. 1982. The persistence of fenitrothion insecticide in red maple (Acer rubrum L) and white birch (Betula papyfifera (Marsh.)) deer browse. Journal of Range Management. 35(1): 65-67. [12564]
  • 70. Newton, Michael; Cole, Elizabeth C.; Lautenschlager, R. A.; [and others]
  • 94. Telfer, Edmund S. 1972. Browse selection by deer and hares. Journal of Wildlife Management. 36(4): 1344-1349. [12455]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]

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Wood Products Value

Red maple is an important source of sawtimber and pulpwood [42] but is
often overlooked as a wood resource [100].  The wood is used for
furniture, veneer, pallets, cabinetry, plywood, barrels, crates,
flooring, and railroad ties [25,49,62].
  • 25. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 42. Haag, Carl L.; Johnson, James E.; Erdmann, Gayne G. 1989. Rooting depths of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) on various sites in the Lake States. NC-347. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [12494]
  • 49. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 62. Lees, J. C. 1981. Three generations of red maple stump sprouts. Information Report M-X. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Maritimes Forest Research Centre, Canadian Forestry Service, Environment Canada. 9 p. [12754]
  • 100. Braiewa, Mark A.; Brown, James H., Jr.; Gould, Walter P. 1985. Biomass and cordwood production of red maple stands in Rhode Island. Journal of Forestry. 83(11): 683-685. [12640]

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Palatability

Red maple is one of the most palatable white-tailed deer foods in
Minnesota [31]; stump sprouts are especially sought out by deer [74,92].
  • 31. Fashingbauer, Bernard A.; Moyle, John B. 1963. Nutritive value of red-osier dogwood and mountain maple as deer browse. Minnesota Academy of Science Proceedings. 31(1): 73-77. [9246]
  • 74. Martin, J. Lynton. 1955. Observations on the origin and early development of a plant community following a forest fire. Forestry Chronicle. 31: 154-161. [11363]
  • 92. Stormer, Fred A.; Bauer, William A. 1980. Summer forage use by tame deer in northern Michigan. Journal of Wildlife Management. 44(1): 98-106. [8417]

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Special Uses

Red maple is known in the lumber industry as soft maple. The wood  is close grained and resembles sugar maple but is softer in  texture, not as heavy, lacks the figure, and has somewhat poorer  machining qualities. Red maple in the better grades is  substituted for hard maple, particularly for furniture. Red maple  lumber shrinkage from green to oven-dry moisture content is  slightly more than shrinkage for hard maple in radial,  tangential, and volumetric measurements (60).

    Brilliant fall coloring is one of the outstanding features of red  maple. In the northern forest, its bright red foliage is a  striking contrast against the dark green conifers and the white  bark and yellow foliage of the paper birches. Red maple is widely  used as a landscape tree.

    Although the hard maples-sugar and black maple (Acer nigrum)  are principally used for syrup production, red maple is also  suitable. When sap and syrup from sugar maple were compared with  those of red and silver maple, boxelder (A. negundo), and  Norway maple (A. platanoides), they were found to be  equal in sweetness, flavor, and quality (30). The buds of  red and silver maple and boxelder break dormancy much earlier in  the spring than sugar maple, however, and the chemical content of  the sap changes, imparting an undesirable flavor to the syrup.  Consequently, the tapping season for red and silver maple is  shorter than that for sugar maple.

    Red maple is a highly desirable wildlife browse food. Elk and  white-tailed deer especially use the current season's growth of  red maple and aspen as an important source of winter food  (25). Timber harvesting slash can provide an  important source of browse to help sustain the animals. Red  maple, sugar maple, and paper birch trees cut any time after leaf  fall provide browse as nutritious as, and more acceptable than,  trees cut immediately before leaf fall (3).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Uses

Red maple is a “soft maple,” with lower commercial value than “hard maples” (such as sugar maple), but with similar uses when its form is good: the wood can be used to make furniture, flooring, veneer, pool cues, bowling pins, and musical instruments (including violins, guitars, double basses, bassoons, and drum kits). However, red maple timber is often of low quality because of the tree’s susceptibility to disease and poor form in individuals that grow in sprout clumps (Wikipedia 2011). Poorer quality wood is used for fuel, saw timber, and pulpwood.

Red maple can be used to produce maple syrup, but because the sap contains less sucrose than sugar maple, it is not used commercially. Native Americans used red maple bark as an analgesic, an eye wash, for treating coughs and diarrhea, and as a remedy for hives and muscular aches. Pioneers made dyes and ink from bark extracts, and used maple splints for basketry (PFAF 2011).
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Uses

Red maple has long been valued as an ornamental tree (shade, specimen, autumn accent, or wet site) because of its ease of establishment, rapid growth, brightly colored flowers and fruit, and fall leaf colors (ranging from clear yellow to orange to vivid red) displaying coloring during different seasons of the year. This tree is preferred over silver maple or boxelder when a fast growing maple is needed. Red maple can be planted onto many types of disturbed sites in rehabilitation projects.

The white, fine-grained wood is used for furniture, flooring, cabinetry, paneling, veneer, musical instruments, tool handles, cutting boards, butcher blocks, wooden bowls, boxes and crates, and many other uses. Red maple is an excellent wood for fuel and is also used for saw timber and pulpwood. But because of susceptibility to defects and disease and poor form of individuals of sprout-clump origin, the timber is often low in quality.

The sap of red maple is sometimes used for producing maple syrup. Although its sap has only about half the sugar content as sugar maple (A. saccharum), the syrup tastes good. Saponins in

the sap may cause excessive frothing of the concentrate.

Native Americans used red maple bark as an analgesic, wash for inflamed eyes and cataracts, and as a remedy for hives and muscular aches. Tea brewed from the inner bark has been used for treating coughs and diarrhea. Pioneers made cinnamon-brown and black dyes from a bark extract. Iron sulphate was added to the tannin from red maple bark to make ink.

Because of the abundance and wide distribution red maple, its early-produced pollen may be important to the biology of bees and other pollen-dependent insects. Most references describe red maple as wind pollinated, but insect pollination may be important, as many insects, especially bees, visit the flowers. The seeds, buds and flowers are eaten by various wildlife species. Squirrels and chipmunks store the seeds. White-tailed deer, moose, elk browse red maple, and rabbits, which find the stump sprouts especially palatable, especially in fall and winter. Cavities in red maples in river floodplain communities are often well suited for cavity nesters such as the wood duck and others.

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Wikipedia

Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum (Red Maple, also known as Swamp, Water or Soft Maple), is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. The U.S. Forest service recognizes it as the most common variety of tree in America.[3] The red maple ranges from southeastern Manitoba around the Lake of the Woods on the border with Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas. Many of its features, especially its leaves, are quite variable in form. At maturity it often attains a height of around 15 m (49 ft). It is aptly named as 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.

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). Due to its attractive fall foliage and pleasing form, it is often used as a shade tree for landscapes. It is used commercially on a small scale for maple syrup production as well as for its medium to high quality lumber. It is also the State Tree of Rhode Island.

Description[edit]

"...brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn"

Though A. rubrum is usually easy to identify, it is highly changeable in morphological characteristics. It is a medium to large sized tree, reaching heights of 18 to 27 metres (59 to 89 ft) and exceptionally over 35 metres (115 feet). The leaves are usually 9 to 11 centimetres (3.5 to 4.3 in) long on a full grown tree. The trunk diameter can range from 46 to 76 cm (18 to 30 in), depending on the growing conditions.[4] Its spread is about 12 m (39 ft). A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 6 m (20 ft) tall. In forests, the bark will remain free of branches until some distance up the tree. Individuals grown in the open are shorter and thicker with a more rounded crown.[5] Generally speaking, however, the crown is irregularly ovoid with ascending whip-like curved shoots. 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.[6] The largest known living red maple is located near Armada, Michigan, at a height of 38.1 m (125 ft) and a bole circumference, at breast height, of 4.95 m (16.2 ft).[4]

Red Maple leaf from specimen in northern Florida

The leaves of the red maple offer the easiest way to distinguish it from its relatives. As with nearly all maple trees, they are deciduous and arranged oppositely on the twig. They are typically 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and wide with 3-5 palmate lobes with a serrated margin. The sinuses are typically narrow, but the leaves can exhibit considerable variation.[5] When 5 lobes are present, the three at the terminal end are larger than the other two near the base. In contrast, the leaves of the related silver maple, A. saccharinum, are much more deeply lobed, more sharply toothed and characteristically have 5 lobes. The upper side of A. rubrum's leaf is light green and the underside is whitish and can be either glaucous or hairy. The leaf stalks are usually red and are up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long. Furthermore, the leaves can turn a brilliant red in autumn, but can also become yellow or orange on some individuals.

Immature foliage of Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

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.[5]

Drawing showing male and female flower, leaf and samara

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, usually coming before the leaves. The tree itself is considered Polygamodioecious, meaning some individuals are male, some female, and some monoecious.[4] The red maple will begin blooming when it is about 10 years old. The flowers are red with 5 small petals and a 5-lobed calyx borne in hanging clusters, usually at the twig tips. They are lineal to oblong in shape and are pubescent. The pistillate flowers have one pistil formed from two fused carpels with a glabrous superior ovary and two long styles that protrude beyond the perianth. The staminate flowers contain between 4 and 12 stamens, often with 8.[7]

The fruit is a 15 to 25 millimeter (.5 to .75 inch) long double samara with somewhat divergent wings at an angle of 50 to 60 degrees. They are borne on long slender stems and are variable in color from light brown to reddish.[5] 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.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

A. rubrum is one of the most abundant and widespread trees in eastern North America. It can be found from the south of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and southern Quebec to the south west of Ontario, extreme southeastern Manitoba and northern Minnesota; south to Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas in its western range; and east to Florida. It has the largest continuous range along the North American Atlantic Coast of any tree that occurs in Florida. In total it ranges 2,600 km (1,600 mi) from north to south.[4] The species is native to all regions of the United States east of the 95th meridian west, with only three exceptions, namely the Prairie Peninsula of the Midwest, the coastal prairie in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas and the swamp prairie of the Florida Everglades.[4] In several other locations, the tree is absent from large areas but still present in a few specific habitats. An example is the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, where it is not found in the dominant open plains, but is present along streams.[8] Here the red maple is not present in the bottom land forests of the Grain Belt, despite the fact it is common in similar habitats and species associations both to the north and south of this area.[4]

The tree's range ends where the −40 °C (−40 °F) mean minimum isotherm begins, namely in southeastern Canada. On the other hand, the western range is limited by the much drier climate of the Great Plains. Nonetheless, it has the widest tolerance to climatic conditions of all the North American species of maple. The absence of red maple in the Prairie Peninsula is due to the species intolerance of fire.

A. rubrum does very well in a wide range of soil types, with varying textures, moisture, pH, and elevation, probably more so than any other forest tree in North America. It grows on glaciated as well as nonglaciated soils derived from the following rocks: granite, gneiss, schist, sandstone, shale, slate, conglomerate, quartzite, and limestone. Chlorosis can occur on very alkaline soils, though otherwise its pH tolerance is quite high. As concerns levels of moisture, the red maple grows everywhere from dry ridges and southwest facing slopes to peat bogs and swamps. It occurs commonly in rather extreme moisture conditions, both very wet and quite dry. While many types of tree prefer a south or north facing aspect, the red maple does not appear to have a preference. Its ideal conditions are in moderately well-drained, moist sites at low or intermediate elevations. However, it is nonetheless common in mountainous areas on relatively dry ridges, as well as on both the south and west sides of upper slopes. Furthermore, it is common in swampy areas, along the banks of slow moving streams, as well as on poorly drained flats and depressions. In northern Michigan and New England, the tree is found on the tops of ridges, sandy or rocky upland and otherwise dry soils, as well as in nearly pure stands on moist soils and the edges of swamps. In the far south of its range, it is almost exclusively associated with swamps.[4]

Red Maple is far more abundant today than when Europeans first arrived in North America, where along with its cousin Silver Maple, it may have comprised a mere 5% of forest area and was confined mostly to riparian zones. The density of the tree in many of these areas has increased 6 to 7 fold and this trend seems to be continuing. A series of disturbances to the oak and pine forests since European arrival, such as the suppression of forest fires and global warming, are most likely responsible for this phenomenon. Concern has been expressed, as the ongoing spread of the red maple is changing the nature of eastern forests by reducing the number of oaks and pines that would otherwise dominate.[9]

Ecology[edit]

Red maple seldom lives longer than 150 years, making it short to medium lived. It reaches maturity in 70 to 80 years. Its ability to thrive in a large number of habitats is largely due to its ability to produce roots to suit its site from a young age. In wet locations, red maple seedlings produce short taproots with long and developed lateral roots, while on dry sites, they develop long taproots with significantly shorter laterals. The roots are primarily horizontal, however, forming in the upper 25 cm (9.8 in) of the ground. Mature trees have woody roots up to 25 m (82 ft) long. They are very tolerant of flooding, with one study showing that 60 days of flooding caused no leaf damage. At the same time, they are tolerant of drought due to their ability to stop growing under dry conditions by then producing a second growth flush when conditions later improve, even if growth has stopped for 2 weeks.[4] Red maple is one of the most drought-tolerant species of maple in the Carolinas.[10]

Samaras from a specimen in Milford, New Hampshire

A. rubrum is one of the first plants to flower in spring. A crop of seeds is generally produced every year with a bumper crop often occurring every second year. A single tree between 5 and 20 cm (2.0 and 7.9 in) in diameter can produce between 12,000 and 91,000 seeds in a season. A tree 30 cm (0.98 ft) in diameter was shown to produce nearly a million seeds.[4] Red maple produces one of the smallest seeds of any of the maples.[10] Fertilization has also been shown to significantly increase the seed yield for up to two years after application. The seeds are epigeal and tend to germinate in early Summer soon after they are released, assuming a small amount of light, moisture, and sufficient temperatures are present. If the seeds are densely shaded, then germination commonly does not occur until the next Spring. Most seedlings do not survive in closed forest canopy situations. However, one- to four-year-old seedlings are common under dense canopy and though they eventually die if no light reaches them, they serve as a reservoir, waiting to fill any open area of the canopy above. Trees growing in a zone 9 or 10 area such as Florida will usually die from cold damage if transferred up north, Canada, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, even if the southern trees were planted with northern red maples. Due to their wide range, genetically the trees have adapted to the climatic differences.

Red maple is able to increase its numbers significantly when associate trees are damaged by disease, cutting, or fire. One study found that 6 years after clearcutting a 3.4 hectares (8.4 acres) Oak-Hickory forest containing no red maples, the plot contained more than 2,200 red maple seedlings per hectare (900 per acre) taller than 1.4 m (4.6 ft).[4] One of its associates, the black cherry (Prunus serotina), contains benzoic acid, which has been shown to be a potential allelopathic inhibitor of red maple growth. Red maple is one of the first species to start stem elongation. In one study, stem elongation was one-half completed in 1 week, after which growth slowed and was 90% completed within only 54 days. In good light and moisture conditions, the seedlings can grow 30 cm (0.98 ft) in their first year and up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) each year for the next few years making it a fast grower.[4]

The red maple is a used as a food source by several forms of wildlife. Elk and white-tailed deer in particular use the current season's growth of red maple as an important source of winter food. Several Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) utilize the leaves as food; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on maples.

Male flowers

Due to A. rubrum's very wide range, there is significant variation in hardiness, size, form, time of flushing, onset of dormancy, and other traits. Generally speaking, individuals from the north flush the earliest, have the most reddish Fall color, set their buds the earliest and take the least winter injury. Seedlings are tallest in the north-central and east-central part of the range. The fruits also vary geographically with northern individuals in areas with brief frost free periods producing fruits that are shorter and heavier than their southern counterparts. As a result of the variation there is much genetic potential for breeding programs with a goal of producing red maples for cultivation. This is especially useful for making urban cultivars that require resistance from verticillium wilt, air pollution, and drought.[4]

Red maple frequently hybridizes with Silver Maple; the hybrid, known as Freeman's Maple Acer x freemanii, is intermediate between the parents.

Toxicity[edit]

The leaves of red maple, especially when dead or wilted, are extremely toxic to horses. The toxin is unknown, but believed to be an oxidant because it damages red blood cells, causing acute oxidative hemolysis that inhibits the transport of oxygen. This not only decreases oxygen delivery to all tissues, but also leads to the production of methemoglobin, which can further damage the kidneys. The ingestion of 700 grams (1.5 pounds) of leaves is considered toxic and 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) is lethal. Symptoms occur within one or two days after ingestion and can include depression, lethargy, increased rate and depth of breathing, increased heart rate, jaundice, dark brown urine, colic, laminitis, coma, and death. Treatment is limited and can include the use of methylene blue or mineral oil and activated carbon in order to stop further absorption of the toxin into the stomach, as well as blood transfusions, fluid support, diuretics, and anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C. About 50% to 75% of affected horses die or are euthanized as a result.[11]

Cultivation[edit]

Red maple is widely grown as an ornamental tree in parks and large gardens, except where soils are too alkaline or salty. In parts of the Pacific Northwest, it is one of the most common introduced trees. Its popularity in cultivation stems from its vigorous habit, its attractive and early red flowers, and most importantly, its flaming red fall foliage. The tree was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1656 and shortly thereafter entered cultivation. There it is frequently found in many parks and gardens, as well as occasionally in churchyards.[6]

Red maple is a good choice of a tree for urban areas when there is ample room for its root system. It is more tolerant of pollution and road salt than Sugar Maples, although the tree's fall foliage is not as vibrant in this environment. Like several other maples, its low root system can be invasive and it makes a poor choice for plantings near paving. It attracts squirrels, who eat its buds in the early spring, although squirrels prefer the larger buds of the silver maple.[12]

Cultivars[edit]

Numerous cultivars have been selected, often for intensity of fall color, with 'October Glory' and 'Red Sunset' among the most popular. Toward its southern limit, 'Fireburst', 'Florida Flame', and 'Gulf Ember' are preferred. Many cultivars of the Freeman maple are also grown widely. Below is a partial list of cultivars:[13][14]

  • 'Armstrong' - Columnar to fastigate in shape with silvery bark and modest orange to red fall foliage
  • 'Autumn Blaze' - Rounded oval form with leaves that resemble the silver maple. The fall color is orange red and persists longer than usual
  • 'Autumn Flame' - A fast grower with exceptional bright red fall color developing early. The leaves are also smaller than the species.
  • 'Autumn Radiance' - Dense oval crown with an orange-red fall color
  • 'Autumn Spire' - Broad columnar crown; red fall color; very hardy
  • 'Bowhall' - Conical to upright in form with a yellow-red fall color
  • 'Burgundy Bell' - Compact rounded uniform shape with long lasting, burgundy fall leaves
  • 'Columnare' - An old cultivar growing to 20 metres (66 feet) with a narrow columnar to pyramidal form with dark green leaves turning orange and deep red in fall
  • 'Gerling' - A compact, slow growing selection, this individual only reaches 10 metres (33 feet) and has orange-red fall foliage
  • 'Northwood' - Branches are at a 45 degree angle to the trunk, forming a rounded oval crown. Though the foliage is deep green in summer, its orange-red fall color is not as impressive as other cultivars.
  • 'October Brilliance' - This selection is slow to leaf in spring, but has a tight crown and deep red fall color
  • 'October Glory' - Has a rounded oval crown with late developing intense red fall foliage. Along with 'Red Sunset', it is the most popular selection due to the dependable fall color and vigorous growth. This cultivar has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[15]
  • 'Redpointe' - Superior in alkaline soil, strong central leader, red fall color
  • 'Red Sunset' - The other very popular choice, this selection does well in heat due to its drought tolerance and has an upright habit. It has very attractive orange-red fall color and is also a rapid and vigorous grower.
  • 'Scarlet Sentinel' - A columnar to oval selection with 5-lobed leaves resembling the silver maple. The fall color is yellow-orange to orange-red and the tree is a fast grower.
  • 'Schlesingeri' - A tree with a broad crown and early, long lasting fall color that a deep red to reddish purple. Growth is also quite rapid.
  • 'Shade King' - This fast growing cultivar has an upright-oval form with deep green summer leaves that turn red to orange in fall.
  • 'V.J. Drake' - This selection is notable because the edges of the leaves first turn a deep red before the color progresses into the center.

Other uses[edit]

A bottle of maple syrup

In the lumber industry Acer rubrum is considered a soft maple. The wood is close grained and as such it is similar to that of A. saccharum, but its texture is softer, less dense, and has a poorer figure and machining qualities. High grades of wood from the red maple can nonetheless be substituted for hard maple, particularly when it comes to making furniture. As a soft maple, the wood tends to shrink more during the drying process than with the hard maples.

Red maple is also used for the production of maple syrup, though the hard maples Acer saccharum (sugar maple) and Acer nigrum (black maple) are more commonly utilized. One study compared the sap and syrup from the sugar maple with those of the red maple, as well as those of the Acer saccharinum (silver maple), Acer negundo (boxelder), and Acer platanoides (Norway maple), and all were found to be equal in sweetness, flavor, and quality. However, the buds of red maple and other soft maples emerge much earlier in the spring than the sugar maple, and after sprouting chemical makeup of the sap changes, imparting an undesirable flavor to the syrup. This being the case, red maple can only be tapped for syrup before the buds emerge, making the season very short.[4]

Red maple is a medium quality firewood,[16] possessing lower heat energy, nominally 5.4 MJ/m³ (18.7 million BTU (mbtu) per cord), than other hardwoods such as Ash: 7 MJ/m³ (24 mbtu/cord), Oak: 7 MJ/m³ (24 mbtu/cord), or Birch: 5.8 MJ/m³ (20 mbtu/cord).

Red Maple make vibrant and colorful Bonsai, and have year around attractive features for display.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NatureServe (2006). "Acer rubrum". NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life, Version 6.1. Arlington, Virginia. 
  2. ^ Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9, June 2008 [and more or less continuously updated since]. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/.
  3. ^ Nix, Steve. "Ten Most Common Trees in the United States". About.com Forestry. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Walters, R. S.; Yawney, H. W. (1965, revised December 1990). "Acer rubrum, Florida Maple". Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, Volume 2. United States Department of Forestry. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  5. ^ a b c d Seiler, John R.; Jensen, Edward C.; Peterson, John A. "Acer rubrum Fact Sheet". Virginia Tech Dendrology Tree Fact Sheets. Virginia Tech. Archived from the original on 2 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  6. ^ a b Mitchell, A. F. (1974). Trees of Britain & Northern Europe. London: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 347. ISBN 0-00-219213-6. 
  7. ^ Goertz, D. "Acer rubrum plant description". Northern Ontario Plant Database. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  8. ^ Campbell, J (1985). The Land of Cane and Clover. University of Kentucky. p. 25. 
  9. ^ Abrams, Marc D (May 1998). "The Red Maple Paradox". BioScience 48 (5): 335–364. JSTOR 1313374. 
  10. ^ a b Miller, J.H., & Miller, K.V. (1999). Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. Champaign, IL: Kings Time Printing.
  11. ^ Goetz, R. J. "Red Maple Toxicity". Indiana Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets. Perdue University. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  12. ^ Reichard, Timothy A. (October 1976). "Spring Food Habits and Feeding Behavior of Fox Squirrels and Red Squirrels". American Midland Naturalist (American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 96, No. 2) 96 (2): 443–450. doi:10.2307/2424082. JSTOR 2424082. 
  13. ^ Evans, E. "Select Acer rubrum Cultivars". North Carolina State University. 
  14. ^ Gilman, E. F.; Watson, Dennis G. "Acer rubrum 'Gerling'". University of Florida. 
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Acer rubrum 'October Glory' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  16. ^ Michael Kuhns and Tom Schmidt (undated). "Heating With Wood: Species Characteristics and Volumes". UtahState University Cooperative Extension. 
  17. ^ D'Cruz, Mark. "Acer Rubrum Bonsai Care Guide". Ma-Ke Bonsai. Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Distinct species, 3 varieties (drummondii, rubrum, trilobum), each widespread; var. tomentosum (sometimes recognized) included in var. rubrum by Kartesz (1999). Occasionally hybridizes A. saccharinum.

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Red maple is a member of the maple family Aceraceae [97]. It exhibits
great morphological variation and has been included in a highly variable
complex of related taxa [79,97]. The currently accepted scientific name
of red maple is Acer rubrum L. [97]. Many varieties and forms have been
identified, but most are no longer recognized. The following varieties
are commonly recognized:

Acer rubrum var. drummondii (Hook. & Arn. ex Nutt.) Sarg.
Acer rubrum var. trilobum Torr. & Gray ex K. Koch

Several forms, differentiated on the basis of various morphological
characteristics, are commonly delineated [38,86]:

Acer rubrum f. tomentosum (Tausch) Siebert & Voss
Acer rubrum f. rubrum
Acer rubrum f. pallidum

Red maple hybridizes with silver maple (A. saccharinum) under natural
conditions [64]. A hybrid product of this cross has been identified:
Acer X freemanii E. Murray [64].
  • 38. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
  • 64. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 79. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 97. Walters, Russell S.; Yawney, Harry W. 1990. Acer rubrum L. red maple. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 60-69. [13956]
  • 86. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]

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Common Names

red maple
scarlet maple

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