Sabert Scott Trott and Mary Welker Trott

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Given in memory of Sabert Scott Trott and Mary Welker Trott by their son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Brenda Trott, and family.

Description:  Red maples are named for the strong red color found in nearly all parts of the tree, especially the twigs, flowers, fruit and fall leaves.  It is a deciduous tree that grows up to 120 feet tall but usually is less than 40 feet.  It grows faster than Norway and sugar maples, but slower than silver maple.  Noted for its fall color it is used frequently in landscape designs.  

Leaves:  The leaves are opposite, with 3-5 palmate lobes and toothed margins on long red stems.  The red maple has a slightly smaller leaf than most other species of maples. Its leaves’ most distinctive feature is a rough, saw-like edge. If the leaf edge of a maple tree appears serrated, it is probably a red maple.  In the fall the leaves turn orange-red although the brilliance of this color can vary among individual trees.

Flowers:  Small, fragrant red/burgundy flowers in clusters mature in late winter.  Red maple is one of the first trees to flower in early spring. 

Fruit:  During spring, light-brown or red-winged samaras mature.  These samaras consist of a single seed encased in a pair of wings.  They are dispersed by the wind twirling like the rotor of a helicopter as they fall to the ground.  

Habitat:  Red maple has one of the widest latitudinal ranges of any tree in North America.  It can be found from Florida to Canada.  It grows in full sun to part shade and tolerates moist to occasionally dry soils. 

Wildlife value:  It attracts butterflies, pollinators, small mammals, and songbirds.  

Uses:  It makes an excellent lawn, park, or street tree. However, it has a shallow, flattened root system that may buckle nearby sidewalks or driveways if planted too close.  It has some tolerance to air pollution and transplants well when young. 

History and Uses: Indigenous Americans used red maple bark to make a wash for inflamed eyes, and as a remedy for hives and muscle aches.  Pioneers made brown and black dyes from extracts of the bark.  The wood is white and fine grained and is used for furniture, flooring, cabinets, musical instruments, tool handles, bowls, cutting boards and many other uses.  Red maple is an excellent fuel wood and can be used for pulpwood.  


NC State Extension Gardener Plant toolbox.

The Sibley Guide to Trees by D.A. Sibley, Alfred Knopf pub, copyright 2009.

USDA Plant Guide