I Love Acer rubrum aka Red Maple

Oct 29, 2021 | Love This!

Name: Acer rubrum aka red maple

Type of Plant: A native tree that’s also called swamp maple, hardy in zones 3-9.

Why I Love This Plant: This is a beautiful large shade and specimen tree that has long lasting color in the spring and fall. In the spring the flowers are bright red and these come out before the leaves. The fruit/seeds, two-winged samaras that helicopter to the ground when they fall, are also red early on. These make the tree appear to still be in bloom when the leaves come out.

This is a fairly fast-growing maple that grows well in damp conditions but also thrives in standard, well-drained soil. These red maples vary in their fall leaf color. Some turn bright red, others gold, or a rose-tinged yellow.

A Word to the Wise: Acer rubrum has fairly shallow roots that grow well beyond the canopy, so it’s not the best tree to place near a driveway, sidewalk or too close to the house.

On Cape Cod my red maple has beautiful red flowers in April. This tree also has a good amount of lichen on the branches, which doesn’t hurt the tree. In fact, I love the combination of the soft-green of the lichen and the red of the Acer rubrum’s blooms

In May the seeds are formed and they too are red as the green leaves start to appear.

Here is how one of my Acer rubrum trees looks in early June. The red samaras are still on the tree and just starting to fade.

In October the red maples on my property turn golden, with a touch of red before the leaves fall. It’s nice to have their fall colors brighten the landscape even as the sky is gray. 

In early November my tree has rosy gold leaves.


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