With fall officially upon us, there’s no better native to highlight this month than one of the first trees to showcase its autumn colors – the red maple (Acer rubrum).
Red maple is one of the most common tree species in the eastern United States, and red maple trees can be found all across New York State. This species’ tolerance of a wide range of site conditions makes it suitable for both natural and urban environments. Mature trees tend to reach a height of 40-60 feet with a full canopy of 30-40 feet in width.
This time of year, red maples are admired for their bright red shades, though yellow and occasionally even orange can be spotted as well. In winter, the sap of a red maple can be used to produce maple syrup. As winter ends, the red flowers and seeds of this species are a welcome sign of early spring. The seeds (samaras), buds, and twigs are treats for mammals, and the tree’s canopy is a popular nesting site for birds. In the forest products industry, red maple is valued for its lumber and pulpwood. The red maple is truly a tree for all seasons and species!
Check out more red maple fun at these links:
- Keep an eye on leaf change throughout the state this season with the I LOVE NY Fall Foliage Report, released each Wednesday afternoon.
- Ever wonder how to tell a red maple from a sugar maple? Read this spring 2007 piece from Northern Woodlands magazine to learn the tips for telling these two NY favorites apart.
Photos: (Top) Red maple leaves in autumn, photo by USDA Forest Service; (Bottom) red maple flowers in early spring, photo by Chris Evans, University of Illinois