Common Name: red maple

Scientific Name: 
Genus: Acer
Species: A. rubrum

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 40 to 70 ft
Width: 30 to 50 ft

Common characteristics:

The red maple is has a broad, rounded crown and a long straight trunk. The bark is smooth and a light gray on young stems, becoming a dark gray and rougher on older limbs and the trunk. Mature bark forms shallow, flaky ridges at the surface, making the tree look shaggy. Leaves are simple and grow in an opposite arrangement. Leaf shape consists of three- to five-pointed saw-toothed lobes separated by sharp angular openings. The upper surface of the leaf is light green when mature and the underside surface is whitish. The red maple is often the first of the maples to turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow in autumn. Winter buds are small, red, and somewhat rounded. The fruits are U-shaped pairs of winged seeds called samaras that range from 1/2" to 1" in length. The seeds form on long, drooping stems and are red, reddish-brown, or yellow in color. They ripen in late spring or early summer. 

Where it grows:

This tree prefers acidic soils, as well as moist, well-drained soils. It will tolerate clay and alkaline soils, and wet sites that experience occasional flooding. It is shade tolerant and moderately fast-growing.

How it’s used:

The red maple makes a good shade tree for the lawn, street, or park. It does have a shallow, flattened root system that may damage nearby sidewalks or driveways if planted too close.

Ecosystem services:

Often used by small and game mammals, songbirds, and insect pollinators as food or shelter. 

Where it is native to:

Native to the eastern and southeastern United States, into some parts of the plains states as well as Oregon. This is a native species to Minnesota and does well in all parts of the state. 

Known Varieties and Their Traits:

Armstrong Gold red maple (Acer rubrum 'KW78'):  An improvement on 'Armstrong', this upright cultivar is very narrow at 40 feet high and 12 feet wide.  The fall color is gold to orange.  Good for narrow street planting sites.

Brandywine red maple (Acer rubrum 'Brandywine'):   40 feet high and 30 feet wide; oval form; male cultivar (seedless); deep red fall color; resistant to leafhopper.

October Glory red maple  (Acer rubrum 'October Glory'):  40 to 60 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide; rounded to oval shape,  female (red tinged seeds), orange-red fall color.

Redpointe® red maple  (Acer rubrum 'Frank Jr.'): 40 to 50 feet high and 25 to 30 feet wide; pyramidal shape with brilliant red fall color.

Red Sunset® red maple   (Acer rubrum 'Franksred'):  40 to 50 feet high and 25 to 35 feet wide; pyramidal to rounded form, striking red fall color.


Pest includes aphids, leafhoppers, borers, scale, and caterpillars. Other issues include verticillium wilt, canker, fungal leaf spot, and root rots may also occur. Wind and ice could break branches.  


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Morton Arboretum

red maple form
red maple bark
red maple foliage