Maple, Red — Acer rubrum (Red Maple, also known as Swamp or Soft Maple), is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. It ranges from the Lake of the Woods on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas. Many of its features, especially its leaves, are quite variable in form. At maturity it often attains a height of around 25 metres (82 ft). It is aptly named as its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees. Among these features, however, it is most well known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.
Over most of its range, red maple is adaptable to a very wide range of site conditions, perhaps more so than any other tree in eastern North America. It can be found growing in swamps, on poor dry soils, and most anywhere in between. Elevation is also not a limiting factor in its range, as it grows well from sea level to about 900 m (3,000 ft). Due to its attractive fall foliage and pleasing form, it is often used as a shade tree for landscapes. It is used commercially on a small scale for maple syrup production as well as for its medium to high quality lumber. It is also the State Tree of Rhode Island.
Though A. rubrum is generally easy to identify, it is highly variable in morphological characteristics. It is a medium to large sized tree, reaching heights of 18 to 27 metres (60 to 90 feet) and exceptionally over 35 metres (115 ft). The diameter can range from 46 to 76 cm (18 to 30 inches), depending on the growing conditions. In forests, the bark will remain free of branches until some distance up the tree. Individuals grown in the open are shorter and thicker with a more rounded crown. Generally speaking, however, the crown is irregularly ovoid with ascending whip-like curved shoots. The bark is a pale grey and smooth when the individual is young. As the tree grows the bark becomes darker and cracks into slightly raised long plates. The largest known living red maple is located near Armada, Michigan, at a height of 38.1 metres (125 ft) and a bole circumference, at breast height, of 4.95 metres (16.25 ft).