Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Also known as: swamp maple


Bloom time: March – April

Additional photos:


  • Small to medium-sized deciduous tree with grey bark, which is scaly on older trees.
  • Flowers appear before the leaves, as opposed to sugar maple where flowers appear as the leaves emerge.

Leaves & Twigs

  • Twigs are slender, shiny and dark red with whitish dots.
  • Leaf buds are rounded, dark red-wine in colour.
  • Leaves are red-tinged in spring, green in summer and bright red in fall.

Flowers & Fruits:

  • Flowers emerge from dark red buds in early spring and form dense, short-stalked clusters.
  • Male and female flowers usually grow on different branches of the same tree, but they can appear on separate trees.
  • Male flowers are red, while female flowers are yellowish green.
  • Note: Observe only the male flowers for PlantWatch.

Habitat: These trees are often found in swamps and in moist soils. Moderately shade-tolerant, they also thrive in drier habitats.

PlantWatch Pointers: Tag a typical tree for observation.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first male flowers are open on the observed tree (3 places).
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers are open on the observed tree.
  • Leafing: when the first leaves push out of the bud and unfold completely (3 places).

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

Red maple bark once was used to make dark red, brown, or black dyes.