Red maple (Acer rubrum), one of the first trees to change color in fall, and native to the East Coast forests. It is also an ornamental tree in suburban and urban neighborhoods. Birds and small animals eat the seeds of red maple and its many cultivars. Manufacturers use the wood for pallets and furniture.
One of the most colorful trees, the red maple displays red throughout the seasons: red buds in winter, red flowers in spring, red leafstalks in summer and bright red foliage in fall. The red maple reaches a height of 40 to 60 feet with a spread of 40 feet. This shade tree grows best in full sun to partial shade. The medium to fast grower does well in almost any soil, including acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well drained, wet, clay soils
Although red maple's roots grow in swampy areas, it also grows well in drier sites. It loses its leaves in fall and, in early spring, clusters of small red flowers dangle from the bare twigs. Landscapers value red maple for its fast growth rate and adaptability.
Red maple carries the lead in spring bloom time. The small, deep purplish-red color flowers sport long, striking stamens. The bright, red leaf stems continue through the growing season. Emerging leaves, seeds, and buds display red throughout the winter.
The red maple tree's leaves may just as likely turn a stunning yellow, bright orange or multicolored. According to the Cooperative Extension System, the genotype (genetic make-up) and the year's late summer and fall weather patterns determine whether or not the red maple produces red leaves in fall. Genetic variations hold the strongest determiner of color. Propagating the red maple by grafting supplies nurseries and consumers with the coveted red color.
Red maple grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 9 which reaches from the highest northern states to far south. Refer to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map when purchasing a red maple tree. These zones cover a 10-degree F range of average annual, minimum temperatures (cold hardiness).