Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Also known as Swamp Maple or Scarlet Maple, Red Maples are regarded by many landscapers as the best of the larger Maples in hardiness, attractiveness and ease of maintenance. Growing to 60 to 75 feet tall and half as wide, it shows an oval round and upright shape. The Red Maple is a relatively fast growing tree, adding between 18 and 25 feet in a 10 year period. This tree is preferred over Silver Maple or Boxelder when a large fast growing Maple is needed.
It prefers wet conditions but will tolerate normal moisture situations with grace. Red maple flowers are small, 1/5 to 2/5 inch long, with short spider-like filaments. Both the male and female flowers are a very noticeable bright red, appearing in clusters in late March or early April before the leaves appear. They give way in late April or early June to clusters of bright red winged seeds at the ends of branches. They turn reddish brown before they drop early in the summer. Seeds are popular with squirrels and birds.
Red Maple leaves vary in this species ranging from 2 to 6 inches long, from three to five lobed and from light green to silvery white underneath. Has red, orange or yellow fall color, sometimes all on the same tree, lasting several weeks. Red Maple is often one of the first trees to color up in autumn.
On the down side, the bark, while attractive, is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact. Roots are quite vigorous and can raise sidewalks when planted to close but are less aggressive than Silver Maples.
Red Maple Choices
Armstrong has upright growth habits, fast growing and almost columnar, 45 feet tall with a spread of only 15 feet. Narrow shape, fall color is yellow to orange-red. Autumn Flame grows to 35 feet tall, round with above average fall color, colors earliest in the fall. It has smaller leaves, and is slower growing than most Red Maples. Bowhall has an upright growth habit, branches from embedded bark, height 40 feet and spread 15 feet, fall color yellow-orange to reddish–orange. Is a tightly formed, sturdy, narrow tree excellent for street plantings. Berling is densely branched, broadly pyramidal, about 35 feet tall when mature. October Glory is an excellent tree, retains leaves late, 40 feet tall’, turns color quite late– – above average fall color with a display of crimson red to orange. Broadly oval to round shape. New World has orange red fall foliage and a shape rather unique to maples - it branches up, then out and weeps at the high level, making it an excellent shade and street tree. Good to zone 4. Red Rocket has a columnar shape and bright, fiery red fall foliage. Good up to zone three. Red Sunset displays above average orange to red fall color, does well in the south in zone 8, probably the best cultivar for the deep south, oval , 45 feet tall, It holds its red fall foliage longest, has a narrower canopy than many. Scanlon shows an upright growth habit. Scarlet Sentinel grows to a height of 40 feet, spread 20 feet, shape is upright and rather narrow. Fall color is yellow-orange to orange-red. The leaves are darker green and larger than other Red Maples and they hold up well in summer heat.