swamp maple, soft maple

Acer rubrum Linnaeus

Red maple derives its name from its brilliant autumn foliage. While common in swamps all over the state, it is also abundant on moist slopes and increasingly common in partially cut woodlots. It is an extremely rapid-growing tree, furnishing a fairly strong, close-grained wood, extensively used for cheap furniture, in the manufacture of baskets and crates, for mine props, railroad ties, and fuelwood.

Bark - on young trunks smooth, light gray in color, often resembling beech; with age becoming darker and roughened into long ridges, often shaggy or scaly on surface; bark character extremely variable on different trees in the same stand.

Twigs - rather slender, bright or dark red in color, without odor when cut or broken.

Winter buds - broad, blunt-pointed, clustered, short stalk, red in color; terminal bud slightly larger than lateral buds; numerous large, plump flower buds along the twig.

Leaves - simple, opposite, 3 to 4 inches long, fully as wide, usually 3-lobed; the clefts between lobes shallow and sharp angled as contrasted with deep clefts of silver maple; margins of leaf lobes coarsely serrate; at maturity leaves light green in color above, pale greenish white below.

Fruit - maple samaras, in clusters on long stalks, ripening in May or early June. Seeds - joined more or less end on end. Wings - diverge at wide angles.

Distinguishing features - red buds and twigs; sharp angle between leaf lobes; leaf margin with teeth.

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