The Red Maple Tree
The red maple tree is one of the most beautiful during foliage season, known for its bright scarlet leaves. It is one of the most common trees up and down the East Coast of the United States. It grows from Manitoba and Newfoundland down to Florida and can be found as far west as East Texas.
The wood of the red maple tree is soft and used to make lower-cost brands of furniture and small wooden items. The tree can be tapped for syrup but will produce much smaller quantities than a sugar maple. It is an ideal landscape tree and is planted in front and backyards, and along streets and walkways. It is a wonderful shade tree.
The red maple tree will grow in more different types of soil and moisture conditions than any other tree in North America. It can grow in the north or south and in the mountains up to an elevation of 6,000 feet. It will grow on dry ridges and southern and western slopes but it is also prevalent in swampy areas and along streams. In the south the red maple is known as a swamp tree.
In the spring the red maple tree is one of the first to flower. White tail deer and elk are among the animals that count on red maples for an abundant food supply. Red maples have a short lifespan as far as trees go, living only for around 150 years. It doesn’t reach maturity until it is 70-80 years old.
The red maple tree is susceptible to many different pests and diseases. Most common are trunk rot fungi and stem diseases. Canker can be caused by six different species of fungi. The tree typically does not suffer from root diseases, but is at risk for several different kinds of leaf diseases. Most of these will not kill the tree unless it has been weakened by other causes. Red maples are so soft that they are easily wounded, especially during bad weather such as a severe ice storm.
There are many different insects which can cause damage to red maple trees. The worst are borers include the gall making maple borer, the maple callus borer and the Columbian timber beetle, and scaling insects, such as the cottony maple scale, the maple leaf scale and the oystershell scale. Your garden supply store can give you help in choosing how to deter insects. Moths can also be a problem. The forest tent caterpillar which so often attacks trees does not like the red maple, but you do have to be on the lookout for the gypsy moth, the linden looper, elm spanworm, and red maple spanworm.
The red maple tree is fast growing and can vary greatly in height. They are hardy in cold temperatures and red maples in the north usually have the brightest and most reddish colors during fall foliage. Red maples are now being bred to withstand some of the conditions affecting city trees, such as drought, verticillium, and air pollution. If you are seeking just the right tree for the front or back lawn, you can’t go wrong with a red maple. It will grow just about anywhere, and when fall comes, you will be delighted with the brilliant colors.