Red Maple Leaf Identification

Overview

Red maple trees (Acer rubrum) are native to North America and can be tapped for maple syrup, though they aren't as reliable producers as the sugar maple. These trees display bursts of red color throughout the year, making them easy to distinguish from other maple trees. Red maple, also known as scarlet maple and swamp maple, is a common landscape tree and street tree, according to the University of Florida.

Shape

Red maple leaves have the pronged shape characteristic of maples; they can have either three prongs or points or five points. The points have shallow valleys between them, and the edges have teeth that vary in size and shape.

Color

During the spring and summer, red maple leaves are an olive green hue, with a whitish underbelly. The lower part of the leaf is covered in fine hairs. Thick veins run through the leaf, stretching from the stem to the tip of each point. A fine network of lines connects these central lines to the rest of the leaf tissue. Leaves have red stems that connect to the branch.

Fall Color

Red maple leaves glow bright red, orange or yellow in the fall. Not all leaves on the tree will turn the same color. Over the fall months, the leaves dry out and fall from the tree.

Spring Identification

Before the red maple tree bears leaves, it begins spring growth with buds and flowers. The flowers are quite small but red in color, which makes them easier to spot than flowers on other maples. In comparison to other types of maples, the buds stick out further from the twig. They are not flush with the twig or slightly rounded out (as they are with sugar and silver maples) but grow on small stalks.

Size

Mature red maple trees reach 60 to 90 feet in height. The trees have a rounded, not sprawling, crown and grow upright.

Range

Red maple grow along the eastern United States and Canada, extending as far west as eastern Texas and the Great Lakes region and as far south as Florida.

Keywords: red maple tree, red maple leaves, identify maple tree, Acer rubrum, types of maple

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.