Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

  [   PIER species lists  ]   [   PIER home  ]

Acer rubrum
L., Aceraceae
Click on an image for links to BIGGER PICTURES

Present on Pacific Islands?  no

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 8 (Go to the risk assessment).

Common name(s): [more details]

English: red maple

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Form: Medium sized tree up to 90 feet. In forest, trunk usually clear for some distance, in the open the trunk is shorter and the crown rounded.  Bark: On young trees, smooth and light gray, with age becomes darker and breaks up into long, fine scaly plates.  Twig: Reddish and lustrous with small lenticels, buds usually blunt, green or reddish (fall and winter) with several loose scales usually present, leaf scars V-shaped, 3 bundle scars, lateral buds slightly stalked, may be collateral buds present. Leaf: Opposite, simple, 3 to 5 palmate lobes with serrated margin, sinuses relatively shallow (but highly variable), 2 to 4 inches long; green above, whitened and sometimes glaucous or hairy beneath. Flower: Attractive but small, occur in hanging clusters, usually bright red but occasionally yellow, appear in early spring, usually before leaves.  Fruit: Clusters of 1/2 to 3/4 inch long samaras with slightly divergent wings, on long slender stems. Light brown and often reddish, ripen in late spring and early summer."  (Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation).

Habitat/ecology:  "The northern extent of the red maple range coincides with the -40° C (-40° F) mean minimum isotherm in southeastern Canada. The western range is limited by the dry climate of the Prairie States. Of all the maples, it has the widest tolerance to climatic conditions.  Red maple can probably thrive on a wider range of soil types, textures, moisture, pH, and elevation than any other forest species in North America.  Its range covers soils of the following orders: Entisols, Inceptisols, Ultisols, Alfisols, Spodosols, and Histosols. It grows on both glaciated and nonglaciated soils derived from granite, gneisses, schists, sandstone, shales, slates, conglomerates, quartzites, and limestone.  Red maple grows on diverse sites, from dry ridges and southwest slopes to peat bogs and swamps. It commonly grows under the more extreme soil-moisture conditions either very wet or quite dry. The species does not show a strong affinity for either a north or a south aspect. Although it develops best on moderately well-drained, moist sites at low to intermediate elevations, it is common in mountainous country on the drier ridges and on south and west exposures of upper slopes. It is also common, however, in swampy areas, on slow-draining flats and depressions, and along small sluggish streams. In upper Michigan and New England, red maple grows on ridge tops and dry sandy or rocky upland soils and in almost pure stands on moist soils and swamp borders. In the extreme south, red maple is almost exclusively a swamp species.  (Silvics of North America).

Propagation:  "A seed crop occurs almost every year, and on an average, a good to bumper crop occurs once in every 2 years. Red maple is generally very fruitful. Trees 5 to 20 cm in d.b.h. (2 to 8 in) can yield seed crops of 12,000 to 91,000 seeds. A 30-cm (12-in) tree yielded nearly a million seeds"  (Silvics of North America).  The winged seeds can be dispersed over considerable distance by wind.

Native range:  Canada and United States; also cultivated (GRIN).


Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Canada native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
United States (other states) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Control:  If you know of control methods for Acer rubrum, please let us know.

Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (

  [   PIER species lists  ]   [   PIER home  ]

This page was created on 8 DEC 2009 and was last updated on 19 FEB 2013.