Acer rubrum
    by Vanessa Vargas

    Common Names of Acer rubrum
    red maple,scarlet maple, soft maple, southern soft maple, three pointed-leaf maple, tree-toothed red maple, water maple, white maple (Windsor) curled maple, and swamp maple (Grieve 1995)

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    Photograph taken by Vanessa Vargas (8/7/97): in front of the UGA chemistry building.

    I will refer to Acer Rubrum as the red maple.

    Kingdom: Metaphyta
    Division: Magnoliophyta
    Class: Magnoliopsida
    Subclass: Rosidae
    Order: Sapindales
    Family: Aceraceae
    Genus: Acer
    Species: Acer rubrum
    (Jones and Luchsinger 1986)

    Acer rubrum is very similiar to Acer saccharinum (silver maple) in appearance. The two can be distinguished by the leaves, flowers, fruit, and twigs (Preston 1976).

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    Photograph taken by Vanessa Vargas (8/7/97): beside the UGA Ecology building.

    Leaves: The leaves are simple opposite, and deciduous. They are "broadest near the base, 5-15 cm long, [and] 3.5-10 cm wide" (Elias 1980). They have 3-5 lobes, "and the tips of the lobes are pointed" (Elias 1980). The leaves are "singly or doubly toothed along the margin, [and] usually rounded at the base" (Elias 1980). A distinguishing factor between Acer rubrum and Acer saccharinum is that the top lobe of the silver maple is narrower at the base than the red maple (The Netlearn Team 1997). The coloration is light green and "paler often whitish beneath" (Elias 1980). "The petioles are red or reddish green and are 2" to 4" long" (Harrar and Harrar 1962).

    Flowers: Flowers are polygamous and show up before the leaves "in dense, stalked, auxillary clusters" (Harrar and Harrar 1962) and are red. There are five short petals the same length as the calyx lobes. The short calyx is 5-lobed (Elias 1980). There are "5 to 8 stamens exserted in the male flower with red anthers" (Harrar and Harrar 1962). The pistil is short with two stout, divergent styles (Harrar and Harrar 1962).

    Fruit: The fruit is "A red double samara borne in clusters on long, slender stalks" (Harrar and Harrar 1962). The wings have a 50 to 60 degree angle spread (Elias 1980). The wings are 1.2-2.6 cm long and 6-12 mm wide (Elias 1980). They mature in May or June (Grimm 1962).

    Twigs: The twigs are slender and shiny dark red. There are 4 to 6 pairs of overlapping scales on red obtuse terminal buds. The lateral buds are smaller and short stalked. The flower buds are collateral with the leaf buds (Harrar and Harrar 1962).

    Bark: The bark on young trees is smooth, light grey or reddish brown. As the trees get older, the bark becomes dark grey and breaks into long narrow scaly plates. (The Netlearn Team 1997).

    Habit: The red maple usually has a height of 40- 70 feet. The diameter is 2 to 4 feet. When the red maple grows in the open, it has a short trunk and a narrowly oblong but dense crown (Grimm 1962). When found in the forest, the trunks are clean from "branches for 30' or more" (Harrar and Harrar 1962).

    Scientific References
    Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas is a key by Radford, Ahles, and Bell that identifies Acer rubrum. It was first described in the book by Linnaeus called Species Plantarum on May 1, 1753 (Stafleu and Cowan 1981).

    The authority and location where deposited
    The authority who described Acer rubrum was Carl von Linnaeus (Hooker et al. 1895). Linnaeus deposited Acer rubrum at the Linnaean Herbarium at the Linnean Society of London (Stafleu and Cowan 1981). It is also deposited at the herbarium of The University of Georgia.

    An abundance and distribution map of red maple in Georgia.

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    This map is found in The Distribution of the Vascular Flora of Georgia by Jones and Coile of the Department of Botany at The University of Georgia.

    Acer rubrum (L.)

    North America:
    Continental United States; Canada
    Yes (Harrar and Harrar 1962)
    Eastern North America:
    United States east of Mississippi;
    Ontario and eastern Canada
    Yes (Harrar and Harrar 1962)
    Southeastern United States:
    Yes (Preston 1976)
    Southern Appalachian States:
    Yes (Preston 1976)
    Coastal Plain Yes (Jones and Coile 1988)
    Piedmont Yes (Jones and Coile 1988)
    Blue Ridge Mountains Yes (Jones and Coile 1988)
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    Yes (Vargas 1997)
    Georgia Yes, personal observation,
    (Vargas 1997)

    The Habitat of Acer rubrum

         The red maple can be found in "wet bottomlands and swamps to mountain ridges and cold northern bogs" (Grimm 1962). It can be associated with oaks, black ash, black tupelo, and cottonwoods (Harrar and Harrar 1962). Acer rubrum is important in the developmental stages of many forest types. It is usually the first forest tree to become estabalished in following "the aspens into old clearings and burned-over areas" (Grimm 1962).

    The Life Conditions of Acer rubrum

         Red maples do not like aerated or high pH soils. They also can not tolerate dry hot weather (Minnesota Power). Acer rubrum grows quickly for 20- 30 years and can live to be 75- 100 years old (Elias 1980). Often, one can see the red maple in urban environments since they can tolerate compact wet soils and city pollution (Britannica).

    Economical Uses and Interesting Information

         The wood of the red maple is used "for furniture, woodenware, boxes, crates, wood pulp, and distillation products" (Grimm 1962). One can get sugar from the sap and also syrup (Grimm 1962). However, the yield of sugar is only half that of sugar maple (Grieve 1995).
    Acer rubrum contains chemical agents that have caused the death of cattle and horses in Virginia through the consumption of the leaves (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis 1977) {didn't read}.

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