Red Maple

Acer rubrum

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Red Maple is one of the most common trees in our area. It is usually a medium-sized tree, but it can grow up to 90 feet. This tree can be found just about anywhere, including forests, stream banks, and fields. It is a pioneer tree, which means it is one of the first to take over a field. It is also often an understory tree, growing beneath larger trees.

Red Maple leaves are three-lobed, with small teeth. They are dull green on top, and pale green or whitish on the bottom. Leaves grow up to four inches long.

Red Maple flowers are reddish-orange, and droop in clusters.

Fruits are called samaras. Samaras have a red, pink, or yellow "wing." They come in pairs.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Copyright, James Manhart

The bark of Red Maple is thin, smooth, and gray when it is young. Older Red Maples have bark that is dark gray, rough, and scaly.

Red Maples are deciduous trees, so they lose their leaves in the Fall. Before they drop, leaves turn orange or red.

In the Spring, twigs are very shiny red.

Some of the other trees Red Maples grow with include: Sweetgum, Eastern White Pine, American Elm, Black Oak, Black Cherry, American Beech, Virginia Pine, Yellow Poplar, Silver Maple, and Loblolly Pine.

Copyright, Erv Evans, NC State University

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Some smaller plants that grow under Red Maples, include Bracken Fern, violets, Jewelweed, horsetails, and Sarsparilla, as well as many mosses.

Many fungi parasite on maple trees, such as Honey Mushrooms and Mossy Maple Polypore.

Other fungi help Red Maple trees by sharing nutrients.

Young Red Maple trees are one of the favorite foods of White-tailed Deer. Seeds are eaten by squirrels and birds.

Red Maple pollen is spread by wind and insects. Bees and butterflies, such as Tiger Swallowtails and Mourning Cloaks visit Red Maple flowers.

European Gypsy moths will eat Red Maple leaves, but not as much as other trees. The Gypsy Moths actually help Red Maples, because they destroy other trees that compete with them, such as Black Oaks. So do Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which don't bother Red Maples at all. Caterpillars of some other moths do eat Red Maple leaves.

Other pests of Red Maple trees include leaf hoppers, scale insects, and beetles.

After fungi weaken the trunk of this tree, woodpeckers dig holes to live in. Screech Owls, Wood Ducks, Carolina Chickadees, Black Rat Snakes, and other cavity-dwellers will live in these holes also.

Many birds build nests in Red Maples, and they are a favorite of blackbirds.

Black Cherry trees have an interesting relationship with Red Maples, because they not only grow together, but they compete with each other. Black Cherries usually win the battle of competition, because they release chemicals which stunt the growth of Red Maples. This means they are "allelopathic."

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants


White-tailed Deer

Pileated Woodpecker

Black Oak

European Gypsy Moth C

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern White Pine

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth C

Mourning Cloak

Wood Duck

Silver Maple

Honey Mushroom Pa

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Rat Snake

Pink Lady's Slipper

Mossy Maple Polypore Pa

European Gypsy Moth

Carolina Chickadee

American Elm

Honey Bee Po

Honey Bee

Red-winged Blackbird


Mourning Cloak Po


Eastern Gray Squirrel

Yellow Poplar

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Po

Eastern Chipmunk

Maple Gall Mite

Loblolly Pine

Poison Ivy Pa

Wood Duck

Luna Moth

American Beech

Virginia Creeper Pa

True Katydid

Big Brown Bat

Black Cherry

Wild Grape Pa


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Bracken Fern

Greenbrier Pa

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Spring Peeper

Eastern Redcedar

Black Cherry A

White-footed Mouse

Striped Skunk

Black Willow

Eastern Chipmunk D

Downy Woodpecker

European Gypsy Moth

Mockernut Hickory

Japanese Honeysuckle Pa

Eastern Hercules Beetle

White-tailed Deer

Virginia Creeper

Oyster Mushroom Pa

White-throated Sparrow


Poison Ivy

Artist's Conk Pa

Maple Gall Mite

True Katydid

Flowering Dogwood

Golden Northern Bumble Bee Po

Polyphemus Moth


Highbush Blueberry

Maple Gall Mite Pa

Oystershell Scale

Northern Mockingbird

American Holly

Oystershell Scale Pa

Norway Rat

Oystershell Scale

Black Locust

Common Greenshield C

Relationship to Humans:

Red Maples are used to make paper, furniture, cabinets, plywood, crates, flooring, and railroad ties. They can also be tapped for sap, which is turned into maple syrup.


Acer rubrum


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