Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Acer rubrum L.
ACERACEAE (Maple Family)
EtymologyAcer, from the Latin for sharp, is the classical name for maple in reference to the hardness of maple wood which the Romans used for spear hafts; rubrum is Latin for red.
Synonyms (Common Name)Swamp Maple, Scarlet Maple, Soft Maple, Water Maple
DescriptionA deciduous, broad-leaved tree of wetlands, red maple also grows in drier habitats. It can reach heights up to 100 feet. In forests, the trunks may be limbless for over half the length of the tree, while in open areas limbs may spread out almost to the ground. Young trees have smooth, light gray bark that darkens and splits into ridges with age.
Wetland indicator statusFAC
Plant Height100 feet
LeavesDeciduous, opposite, simple, coarsely toothed, 3-5 palmately lobed, 2-5" long; sinus (notch) between lobes is shallow and V-shaped; green above, whitish below, red stalks; brilliant scarlet to orange or yellow in autumn.
Flower/InflorescenceMale and female flowers usually on different trees; bright scarlet to dull red; small clusters. In late winter, red buds and twig ends give reddish haze to treetops.
Flowering PeriodLate March-April, before leaves appear
FruitPaired samara (dry, winged fruit), 1/2 -- 1" long, reddish.
Fruiting PeriodMay to July.
HabitatHardwood and shrub swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, floodplains, uplands.
RangeNewfoundland to Manitoba; south to Florida and Texas.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett