Global menu

The Green pages

Red maple

  • Native Plants,
  • Trees and Shrubs
Red maple (Acer rubrum)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Robert Mineau)
Acer rubrum.



Origin and description

The generic name Acer means both “bow” and “hard.” Red maple gets its name from its leaves and flowers. Its leaves, which are pale green in summer, turn bright red in fall. In spring, before the leaves appear, the tree is covered in flowers, which are also bright red.

It has opposite leaves, with three to five lobes and sharp teeth. Male and female flowers are usually borne on separate trees. Young twigs are red, with many lenticels. The bark is grey and rough, becoming cracked and scaly with age.

Commonly found in maple stands; thrives in sites not suited to sugar maples (Acer saccharum) because not well drained. Also tapped for maple-syrup making.

Tree with a rounded crown that can grow to 20 metres.

Species, cultivars and related plants

'Armstrong': More fastigiate (narrow-growing) variety than others in the species. Leaves turn very bright red in fall. Slow growing. Same features as the species. Used for street plantings by the City of Montréal.
'Columnare': Fastigiate (narrow-growing) variety. Dark green leaves turning bronze-red in fall. Very slow growing. This variety is less susceptible to chlorosis than others. Hardy in Montréal (zone 5b).
'Morgan': Non-recognized variety that closely resembles the species and has similarly coloured fall foliage.
'October Glory': Variety with foliage that turns bright red in fall and retains its leaves longer than other red maples.
'Conica Scanlon': Compact pyramidal shape. Bronze-orange and red leaves in fall.
'Tilford': Highly irregular, rounded crown. Slow growing in urban sites.


Red maples are found across the Eastern Seaboard, from southern Quebec and Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.

Common name

Red maple / Swamp maple

Latin name (genus)

Acer rubrum

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Aceraceae

Growing conditions

Usually grows in moist, cool and even swampy sites, hence the name swamp maple. May also be found in dry and even rocky sites.

Easy to grow?

Adapts poorly to urban conditions.

Pests and diseases

Susceptible to chlorosis.

Physiological disorders

Add this