Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Red Maple, Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple

Red Maple, Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple

Acer rubrum

Full to part sun (shade tolerant only in youth); moderately wet to medium moisture level; soils include coarse sands and sandy loams to fine silty clays and clay soils; moderately acid to neutral pH.

40-75 feet height by 20-50 feet spread; inconspicuous red flowers in late winter or early spring; seeds are winged, paired samaras from March to April.

Growth Rate: Fast when young and then medium to fast

Maintenance: Few pests seriously bother this species. Best to select a plant that has been grown from seed collected where you live due to regional differences in cold hardiness.

This species does not adapt well to fall planting because the root system takes several months to adapt after planting and/or because it is unusually susceptible to winter damage.  It is best saved for spring planting.  However, you can often justify the risk by finding exceptional bargains in the fall when many garden centers are motivated to reduce their stock.

Propagation: Seed germination code C (60-75) at 41 degrees F or a cold water soak for 2-5 days. Easy from seed. Easy from softwood cuttings.

Native Region: Statewide

Large, handsome shade tree that is a very popular ornamental tree. Buds, young twigs and flowers are reddish to bright red in color. Fall leaf color varies from yellow green to crimson and is not always red in spite of the common name. If you want a dependable red in fall, a cultivar of this species is a better choice. Very shallow, fibrous root system that makes it difficult to grow other plants beneath the tree. Although it is best in moist, fertile soil, it has the widest tolerance range of any of our maples and will grow just about anywhere. However does not do well in high pH soil, dry soils and on windswept sites. Lives up to 150 years. Many cultivars available.

Very high wildlife value. Attracts birds, bees and mammals. Larval host to the Cecropia moth.


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