The red maple is a medium to large deciduous tree named for its distinctive red fall leaves, fruits, flowers and twigs. Its bark is smooth and grey but becomes scaly and dark grey as the tree gets older. Its leaves are 2.5 to 4 inches in length, with three to five pointed lobes that have serrated edges.

In spring and summer, the leaves are a medium-green, later turning red-orange in the fall. Its flowers are pinkish-red and grow in drooping clusters. Its fruits are winged seeds that appear in clusters of pairs. Red maples reach an average height of 60 to 90 feet.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

An early spring bloomer, flowers form in March and April. Winged fruits mature between April and June and are dispersed by air. Seeds usually germinate within ten days. Trees can produce viable seeds at age four, and usually produce good seeds every other year.

After a fire or mechanical disturbance, stumps can sprout new growth. Red maples usually live between 60 to 90 years, but have been known to survive 200 years.

Did You Know?

  • Wildlife use red maples for food, shade and nesting habitat. Squirrels and other rodents feed on the fruits, while rabbits and deer eat the tender shoots and leaves.
  • The quick-growing, hardy red maple is popular in landscaping and for timber production.

Sources and Additional Information