A young Red Maple in the fall, with bright red leaves, in a field.

Red Maple

Botanical Name: Acer rubrum

En français: Érable rouge

The red bears brilliant coloured foliage and nutrition for many types of . It is also commonly used to make furniture and flooring.

Other names: Swamp Maple, Soft Maple, Maple, Plaine, Plaine rouge


Contains a seed called Samara (most people know them as helicopters or whirlybirds), which are eaten by squirrels and chimpmunks. The red maple has the smallest samara’s of any maple tree. Red maples are considered one of the most abundant trees in the forest, and its spread is kept contained by moose, deer, and rabbits.


Foresters consider it to be undesirable on poor sites as it may be poorly formed and defective. However, on good sites, it may grow quickly and be used for logs. Can be toxic to horses if dry, wilted leaves are consumed. Its early produced pollen may be important for bees and other pollen-dependant insects.



Width: Red flowers form in early spring, fast growing.

Water: Moderate to high water requirement.


Best Soil: Deep, moist acidic loam soils are the best type for this tree, although it is tolerant of many different soils.

Red maple sap can be used to make maple syrup, but the sap has half the sugar content of a sugar maple and is not as commonly used. It is also used to make musical instruments, pallets and crates.

Its natural habitat: Wetlands, rich lowland forests and dry, rocky south-facing hillsides..

The red maple thrives on many types of soil, moisture and pH levels. It reaches maturity at 70 or 80 years old, but does not typically live past 150 years old. It grows abundantly in eastern North America, is one of the first trees to flower in spring, and can flower as early as 4 years old.

Propagating Acer rubrum

Plant in early spring using a stake to secure the tree and to create a straighter trunk.

Caring for Red Maple

Easy to transplant and establish. Shade tolerant when young.

Pruning Érable rouge

At about a year, trim the lower 6 inches of your maple tree to rid of any low-growing branches. Trim the top of the tree to create a rounded top, leaving one branch longer than the others to create “competition.” Don’t be alarmed when you see “bleeding” from trimming, as the sap will run.


Red maple is a favourite of the yellow-bellied sapsucker which feeds on the sap and the insects, but in doing so leaves holes in the trunk which may damage the tree. It is susceptible to a disease known as maple wilt where the leaves can develop the appearance of burnt spots and the bark can streak or discolour. The cause of this condition is a fungus called verticillium albo-atrum or verticillium dahliae.


The red maple has not always grown as abundantly as it does today, and is said to be due to disease, forest suppression and forest fires. Native Americans used the bark as a cough suppressant by brewing. Pioneers made brown and black dyes from the bark extract.



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