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For more great information on trees that thrive in Michigan, visit the Tree of the Week Archive page.

Tree of the Week - May 24, 2004

Beautiful Red Maple in AutumnRed Maple

Acer rubrum--Red Maple, Swamp Maple 

Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7 
Height: 50 ft
Spread: 40 ft
Form: upright 
Type: deciduous tree 
Annual Growth Rate: 12 to 18 inches 

Comments: This tree is preferred over Silver Maple or Boxelder when a fast-growing maple is needed. Red Maple is useful in wet places and compacted soil but is susceptible to manganese deficiency in high pH soils. The outstanding ornamental characteristic of Red Maple is red fall color. It is one of the first trees to develop fall color in autumn. The cultivars 'Autumn Flame®' and 'Franksred' (Red Sunset®) reportedly provide consistent fall color display in the southern U.S. The red flowers are numerous and small, and on individual trees can be quite ornamental. The smooth gray bark is considered ornamental. Multi-stem trees can be useful in privacy screens, especially when combined with evergreen trees.

Cultivars: In recent years trees have been propagated by softwood cutting to overcome graft incompatibilities that were a problem in the past. The cultivars listed as A. x Freemanii are hybrids between A. rubrum and A. saccharinum. 

'Armstrong'(A. x freemanii) - A fast-growing, narrow tree with ascending branches often used for street planting. 

Autumn Flame® - One of the most reliable and first Red Maples to color in the fall. The tree grows more slowly and has smaller leaves than most other cultivars. 

'Celzam' (Celebration ®) (PP7279)(A. x freemanii) - A compact, pyramidal, seedless tree with red and yellow fall color. The tree reaches a height and spread of 15 feet and may be clipped for use as hedge. 

'Franksred' (Red Sunset®) - Developed by Frank Schmidt, Jr., this is a vigorous tree with a symmetrical branching pattern.  The foliage is brilliant red and orange-red in the fall. 

'Jeffersred' (Autumn Blaze®))(PP4864) (A. x freemanii) - The dense, oval crown consists of ascending branches. The outstanding orange-red fall color is combined with drought tolerance. 

Karpick® - Narrow when young, becoming oval with age, another Red Maple useful as a street tree. 

'Magnificent Magenta' (Burgundy Belle®)(PP7222) - A rounded tree reaching a height and spread of about 45 feet. In the fall, the leaves turn bright red and then change to burgundy. 

October Glory® - A round-headed selection that is the last of the cultivars to color in the fall. It seems to have less cold tolerance than other cultivars and is best used in areas with mild winters and hot summers.  

Check out more trees from the Tree of the Week Archive.

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