Acer rubrum, commonly called red maple, is a medium-sized, deciduous tree that is native to Eastern North America from Quebec to Minnesota south to Florida and eastern Texas. It typically grows 40-60’ tall with a rounded to oval crown. It grows faster than Norway and sugar maples. In northern states, red maple usually occurs in wet bottomland, river flood plains and wet woods, but in Missouri it typically frequents drier, rocky upland areas. Emerging new growth leaves, leafstalks, twigs, flowers, fruit and fall color are red or tinged with red. Leaves (to 2-5" long) have 3 principal triangular lobes (sometimes 5 lobes with the two lower lobes being largely suppressed). Lobes have toothed margins and pointed tips. Leaves are medium to dark green above and gray green below. Flowers on a given tree are primarily male or female or monoecious and appear in late winter to early spring (March-April) before the leaves. Fruit is a two-winged samara. It is called the red maple because red is everywhere on the tree: red flowers in dense clusters in late March to early April (before the leaves appear), red fruit (initially reddish, two-winged samara), reddish stems and twigs, red buds, and, in the fall, excellent orange-red foliage color. Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but prefers moist, slightly acid conditions. Very cold hardy.
Growing Instructions for the Red Maple
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for several hours. 2. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 3. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 2-3 months. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Use a sterile seed starter mix, if available. It prevents soil pathogens from damaging the seeds and the seedlings. If not available, then make a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. 5. Put the soil in a pot. 6. Sow the seeds on the soil. 7. Cover the seeds with a layer of soil that is 3/8 of an inch thick. 8. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 9. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.