Red Maple - Acer rubrum
Maple Family (Aceraceae)
Red maple is one of the most recognized trees with some part of the plant red all season long. It occurs throughout Kentucky on both wet and dry sites, but prefers acid soils. The Kentucky co-champion trees are in Balllard and Henderson Counties and are over 80 feet tall.
- Native habitat: Newfoundland south to Florida, west to Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas.
- Growth habit: Red maple often has an irregular, rounded crown but its habit is quite variable.
- Tree size: This medium- to fast-growing species may reach 40 to 60 feet in height, and up to 120 feet in the wild. Spread tends to be less than or equal to height.
- Flower and fruit: Clusters of small red flowers bloom in March and April. Reddish, winged fruit called samaras or "keys" become brown and mature in May and June.
- Leaf: Three- or five-lobed leaves unfold reddish and become green (underside lighter, with hairs) while leafstalks remain red. Fall color is variable from yellow through red. Use named cultivars for more brilliant fall color.
- Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA Zone 3b.
There are numerous cultivars of red maple, some of which are selections of A. x freemanii (A. rubrum x A. saccharinum). The more common ones include: ‘Armstrong' - An upright form of red maple that is a selection of A. x freemanii. It grows faster than the other upright maples. It does not have as strong a fall color as other red maple cultivars. ‘Columnare' - Sometimes called ‘Bowhall,' this is a strong upright-growing form of red maple. It is slower-growing and makes a good landscape tree for limited space or a street tree. October Glory ® - Second only to Red Sunset® in popularity as a shade tree, this cultivar develops dependable, late-season orange to red color. It colors later in the season than other red maple cultivars, at about the same time as Bradford pear. Red Sunset ® - A very beautiful and popular shade tree. This cultivar has dependable red color in Kentucky. Red Sunset® is the trademark name; 'Franksred' is the cultivar name.