363 Vescovo Dr.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Acer rubrum, the red maple, also known as swamp, water or soft maple, is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern and central North America. Like its cousin the Sugar Maple, it brightens the fall throughout the northern, midwestern and northeastern states with its dazzling colors. But northern specimens are not identical to its southern brothers and so colors and intensity vary by region. Most early growth, including the petiole, or leaf stem, is red or red-tinged and in autumn turns from yellow- green to bright yellow to flaming orange to dark red. Its leaves are smaller than the Sugar Maple and are mostly 3-lobed although leaves are sometimes 5-lobed. To differentiate between species, the leaves on the Red Maple have a shallower sinus. (In botany, a sinus is a space or indentation between two lobes or teeth, usually on a leaf.) Like a Sugar Maple, its fruit is a two-winged samara and the bark changes from smooth in youth to rough and ridged or furrowed as it ages. Its wood is of inferior quality than that of other maples so it is used for veneer and lower grades of furniture. And it has a very shallow root system that may buckle sidewalks or driveways if planted too close. 

The nation’s largest red maple is in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. This Smokey Mountain giant was declared champion in 1997 by American Forests and is listed in the National Register of Big Trees as being 141 feet tall and just over 7 feet in diameter at 4-1/2 feet above ground.

Red maple may be used for the production of maple syrup, but its short harvest season makes it less commercially viable than hard maples, such as sugar maple and black maple. Native Americans used red maple bark as a wash for inflamed eyes and cataracts, and as a remedy for hives and muscular aches. They would also brew tea from the inner bark to treat coughs and diarrhea. Pioneers made cinnamon-brown and black dyes from a bark extract, and iron sulphate could be added to the tannin from red maple bark in order to make ink. Red maple is the state tree of Rhode Island.

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