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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Acer rubrum L.)

Red maple

MAPLE FAMILY (Aceraceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A deciduous tree growing to a height of 35 m. The leaves are opposite and shallowly 3-(to 5-) lobed with the lobes cut less than halfway to the base of the blade. Leaves are 0.8-3.2 cm. broad, green above, and whitened below, turning bright red to yellow in autumn. Petioles are usually red, at least on one side. The bark is smooth and gray in young trees, becoming broken and darker with age. Twigs and buds are reddish, and flowers and young samaras are bright red. The fruit is a winged samara 1.5-2.5 cm. long. In flower from March to May.

A. rubrum can be distinguished from silver maple (A. saccharinum) by its shallowly lobed leaves, wide base of the leaves, and smoother bark, versus the deeply lobed leaves with narrow leaf bases and flaking bark of A. saccharinum.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Red maple is commonly found in wooded swamps. However, it is a facultative species found growing on poor soils of both upland and wetland habitats.

SOURCE: Fernald (1970); Petrides (1972); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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