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Uses

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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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Brief Summary

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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).
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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

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More info for the term: 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
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: density, fire use, forest, hardwood, 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:

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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Common Names

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red maple
scarlet maple
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Cover Value

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Description

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More info for the terms: fruit, 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].
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bibliographic citation
Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Distribution

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More info for the term: swamp

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].
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bibliographic citation
Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Fire Ecology

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More info for the terms: fire regime, fire suppression, forest, 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].

FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find FIRE REGIMES".
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Fire Management Considerations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
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.
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info on this topic.

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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat characteristics

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More info for the terms: association, cover, forest, 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
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Cover Types

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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 terms: hardwood, 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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Ecosystem

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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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Plant Associations

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

More info for the term: forest

   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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Immediate Effect of Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
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.
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

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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.
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Key Plant Community Associations

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More info for the terms: association, codominant, forest, 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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Life Form

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More info for the term: tree

Tree
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Management considerations

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Nutritional Value

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Occurrence in North America

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     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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Other uses and values

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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.
 
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Palatability

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Phenology

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More info for the term: fruit

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
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Plant Response to Fire

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More info for the terms: density, root crown, seed

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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Post-fire Regeneration

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More info for the terms: caudex, root crown, seed

   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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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regeneration Processes

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More info for the terms: duff, forest, root collar, root crown, seed

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.
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Successional Status

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Synonyms

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Acer rubrum f. tomentosum (Tausch) Siebert & Voss
Acer rubrum f. rubrum
Acer rubrum f. pallidum
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Taxonomy

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More info for the term: natural

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 [38,86]:

Acer rubrum var. drummondii (Hook. & Arn. ex Nutt.) Sarg., Drummond's maple
Acer rubrum var. rubrum, red maple
Acer rubrum var. trilobum Torr. & Gray ex K. Koch, Carolina maple

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, Freeman maple [64].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

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More info for the term: seed

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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Wood Products Value

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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].
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Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Acer rubrum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Associated Forest Cover

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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).

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Climate

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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.

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Damaging Agents

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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 populinus, which 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, Strumella, and 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).

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Genetics

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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).

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Growth and Yield

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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).

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Reaction to Competition

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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.

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Rooting Habit

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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).

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Seed Production and Dissemination

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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).

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Seedling Development

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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).

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Soils and Topography

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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.

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Special Uses

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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).

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Vegetative Reproduction

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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).

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Brief Summary

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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.

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Acer rubrum

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Acer rubrum, the red maple, also known as swamp, water or soft maple, is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern and central North America. The U.S. Forest service recognizes it as the most abundant native tree in eastern North 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 Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas. Many of its features, especially its leaves, are quite variable in form. At maturity, it often attains a height of around 30 m (100 ft). Its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees. Among these features, however, it is best known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.

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. The red maple can be considered weedy or even invasive in young, highly disturbed forests, especially frequently logged forests. Red maple is considered by many a pest, and many believe that it is taking over forests and displacing native trees, such as sugar maple, this is only true in young forests where human disturbance is common. In a mature or old growth northern hardwood forest, red maple only has a sparse presence, while shade tolerant trees such as sugar maples, beeches, and hemlocks thrive. By removing red maple from a young forest recovering from disturbance, the natural cycle of forest regeneration is altered, changing the diversity of the forest for centuries to come.[4][not in citation given][5]

Description

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Typical fall foliage in red maple country.

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 27 to 38 metres (90 to 120 ft) and exceptionally over 41 metres (135 feet) in the southern Appalachians where conditions favor its growth.[4] The leaves are usually 9 to 11 centimetres (3 12 to 4 14 in) long on a full-grown tree. The trunk diameter often ranges from 46 to 88 cm (18 to 35 in); depending on the growing conditions, however, open grown trees can attain diameters of up to 153 centimetres (60 in). The trunk will remain free of branches until some distance up the tree on forest grown trees, while individuals grown in the open are shorter and thicker with a more rounded crown.[6] 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.[7] 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 ft 3 in).[8]

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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 all North American maple trees, they are deciduous and arranged oppositely on the twig. They are typically 5–10 cm (2–4 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.[6] 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 (4 in) long. Furthermore, the leaves can turn a brilliant red in autumn, but can also become yellow or orange on some individuals.

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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.[6]

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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 (though as early as late January in the southern part of its range), usually coming before the leaves. The tree itself is considered Polygamodioecious, meaning some individuals are male, some female, and some monoecious.[8] Under the proper conditions, the tree can sometimes switch from male to female, male to hermaphroditic, and hermaphroditic to female[9] The red maple will begin blooming when it is about 8 years old, but it significantly varies between tree to tree: some trees may begin flowering when they are 4 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.[10]

The fruit is a samara 15 to 25 millimeters (58 to 1 in) long that grows in pairs 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.[6] 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.[8]

Distribution and habitat

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.[8] The species is native to all regions of the United States east of the 95th meridian. The tree's range ends where the −40 °C (−40 °F) mean minimum isotherm begins, namely in southeastern Canada. A. rubrum is not present in the Prairie Peninsula of the northern Midwest, the coastal prairie in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas and the swamp prairie of the Florida Everglades.[8] The absence of red maple in the Prairie Peninsula is perhaps due to the species' intolerance of fire.[8]

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 red maple is not found in the dominant open plains, but is present along streams.[11] 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.[8]

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. A. rubrum's high pH tolerance means that it can grow in a variety of places, and it is widespread along the eastern United States.[12] It grows on glaciated as well as unglaciated 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. Moist mineral soil is best for germination of seeds.[8]

The red maple can grow in a variety of moist and dry biomes, from dry ridges and sunny, southwest-facing slopes to peat bogs and swamps. While many types of tree prefer a south- or north-facing aspect, the red maple does not appear to have a preference.[8] 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.[8] Additionally, red maple is one of the most drought-tolerant species of maple in the Carolinas.[13]

Red maple is far more abundant today than when Europeans first arrived in North America. It only contributed minimally to old growth upland forests, and would only form same-species stands in riparian zones.[8] The density of the tree in many of these areas has increased 6- to 7-fold, and this trend seems to be continuing, all of which is due to human factors, mainly continued heavy logging and a recent trend of young, shrubby forests recovering from past human disturbances. Red maple dominates such sites, but largely disappears until it only has a sparse presence by the time a forest is mature. This species is in fact a vital part of forest regeneration in the same way that paper birch is.[4]

Because it can grow on a variety of substrates, has a high pH tolerance, and grows in both shade and sun, A. rubrum is a prolific seed producer and highly adaptable, often dominating disturbed sites. While many believe that it is replacing historically dominant tree species in the eastern United States such as sugar maples, beeches, oaks, hemlocks and pines, red maple will only dominate young forests prone to natural or human disturbance. In areas disturbed by humans where the species thrives, it can reduce diversity, but in a mature forest it is not a dominant species; it only has a sparse presence and adds to the diversity and ecological structure of a forest.[4] Extensive use of red maple in landscaping has also contributed to the surge in the species' numbers as volunteer seedlings proliferate. Finally, disease epidemics have greatly reduced the population of elms and chestnuts in the forests of the US. While mainline forest trees continue to dominate mesic sites with rich soil, more marginal areas are increasingly being dominated by red maple.[14]

Ecology

Red maple is generally not a long lived tree, but the species does regularly reach 200 years of age in an undisturbed forest, and will live over 300 years of age in the best conditions. Many people believe the species has a much shorter lifespan; this is often attributed to the fact that populations of red maple are known to thin out as a forest matures and develops into an old growth forest.[8] 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, well-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.[8]

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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.[8] Red maple produces one of the smallest seeds of any of the maples.[13] 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. 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, for instance to 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.

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Female flowers

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).[8] 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.[8]

The red maple is 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, including larvae of the rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda); see List of Lepidoptera that feed on maples.

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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. In Florida, at the extreme south of the red maple's range, it is limited exclusively to swamplands. 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 such 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.[8]

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Acer × freemanii 'Jeffersred' in Toronto

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

Allergenic potential

The allergenic potential of red maples varies widely based on the cultivar.

The following cultivars are completely male and are highly allergenic, with an OPALS allergy scale rating of 8 or higher:[15]

  • 'Autumn Flame' ('Flame')
  • 'Autumn Spire'
  • 'Columnare' ('Pyramidale')
  • 'Firedance' ('Landsburg')
  • 'Karpick'
  • 'Northwood'
  • 'October Brilliance'
  • 'Sun Valley'
  • 'Tiliford'

The following cultivars have an OPALS allergy scale rating of 3 or lower; they are completely female trees, and have low potential for causing allergies:[15]

  • 'Autumn Glory'
  • 'Bowhall'
  • 'Davey Red'
  • 'Doric'
  • 'Embers'
  • 'Festival'
  • 'October Glory'
  • 'Red Skin'
  • 'Red Sunset' ('Franksred')

Toxicity

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.[16]

Cultivation

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Mature bark, at Hemingway, South Carolina

Red maple's rapid growth, ease of transplanting, attractive form, and value for wildlife (in the eastern US) has made it one of the most extensively planted trees. 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.[7]

Red maple is a good choice of a tree for urban areas when there is ample room for its root system. Forming an association with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi can help A. rubrum grow along city streets.[17] 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.[18]

Red Maple make vibrant and colorful bonsai, and have year around attractive features for display.[19]

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Specimen showing variation of autumn leaf coloration

Cultivars

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:[20][21]

  • '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.[22]
  • '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

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A bottle of maple syrup

In the lumber industry Acer rubrum is considered a "soft maple", a designation it shares, commercially, with silver maple (A. saccharinum). In this context, the term "soft" is more comparative, than descriptive; i.e., "soft maple", while softer than its harder cousin, sugar maple (A. saccharum), is still a fairly hard wood, being comparable to Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) in this regard. Like A. saccharum, the wood of red maple is close-grained, but its texture is softer, less dense, and has not as desirable an appearance, particularly under a clear finish. However, the wood from Acer rubrum while being typically less expensive than hard maple, also has greater dimensional stability than that of A. saccharum, and also machines and stains easier. Thus, high grades of wood from the red maple can be substituted for hard maple, particularly when it comes to making stain/paint-grade furniture. Red maple lumber also contains a greater percentage of "curly" (aka "flame"/"fiddleback") figure, which is prized by musical instrument/custom furniture makers, as well as the veneer industry. 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.[8]

Red maple is a medium quality firewood,[23] possessing less 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).

See also

References

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  2. ^ The Plant List, Acer rubrum L.
  3. ^ Nix, Steve. "Ten Most Common Trees in the United States". About.com Forestry. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Native Tree Society". Retrieved 30 March 2015.
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  9. ^ Primack, R.B.; McCall, C. (1986). "Gender Variation in Red Maple Populations (Acer rubrum; Aceraceae): A Seven-Year Study of a "Polygamodioecious" Species". American Journal of Botany. 73 (9): 1239–1248. doi:10.2307/2444057.
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  11. ^ Campbell, J (1985). "The Land of Cane and Clover". University of Kentucky: 25.
  12. ^ 18(2), 177–184., Jared; McCarthy, Brian (2011). "Diminished Soil Quality in an Old-Growth, Mixed Mesophytic Forest Following Chronic Acid Deposition Diminished Soil Quality in an Old-growth, Mixed Mesophytic Forest Following Chronic Acid Deposition". Northeast Naturalist. 18 (2): 177–184.
  13. ^ a b Miller, J.H., & Miller, K.V. (1999). Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. Champaign, IL: Kings Time Printing.
  14. ^ Abrams, Marc D (May 1998). "The Red Maple Paradox". BioScience. 48 (5): 335–364. doi:10.2307/1313374. JSTOR 1313374.
  15. ^ a b Ogren, Thomas (2015). The Allergy-Fighting Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-60774-491-7.
  16. ^ Goetz, R. J. "Red Maple Toxicity". Indiana Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets. Perdue University. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  17. ^ Appleton, Bonnie; Koci, Joel (2003). "Mycorrhizal Fungal Inoculation of Established Street Trees". Journal of Arboriculture. 29 (2): 107–110.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ D'Cruz, Mark. "Acer Rubrum Bonsai Care Guide". Ma-Ke Bonsai. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  20. ^ Evans, E. "Select Acer rubrum Cultivars". North Carolina State University.
  21. ^ Gilman, E. F.; Watson, Dennis G. "Acer rubrum 'Gerling'". University of Florida.
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Acer rubrum 'October Glory' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  23. ^ Michael Kuhns and Tom Schmidt (n.d.). "Heating With Wood: Species Characteristics and Volumes". UtahState University Cooperative Extension.

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Acer rubrum: Brief Summary

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Acer rubrum, the red maple, also known as swamp, water or soft maple, is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern and central North America. The U.S. Forest service recognizes it as the most abundant native tree in eastern North America. 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 Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas. Many of its features, especially its leaves, are quite variable in form. At maturity, it often attains a height of around 30 m (100 ft). Its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees. Among these features, however, it is best known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.

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. The red maple can be considered weedy or even invasive in young, highly disturbed forests, especially frequently logged forests. Red maple is considered by many a pest, and many believe that it is taking over forests and displacing native trees, such as sugar maple, this is only true in young forests where human disturbance is common. In a mature or old growth northern hardwood forest, red maple only has a sparse presence, while shade tolerant trees such as sugar maples, beeches, and hemlocks thrive. By removing red maple from a young forest recovering from disturbance, the natural cycle of forest regeneration is altered, changing the diversity of the forest for centuries to come.[not in citation given]

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