Acer rubrum

Red Maple, scarlet maple, swamp maple, water maple, white maple, soft maple

Description: deciduous tree

Place of origin: eastern North America

Urban habitat: common on degraded and disturbed sites; can thrive in swamps as well as in dry soils, and in low pH soils.

Ecological function: food and habitat for wildlife; erosion control.

History: Acer rubrum is one of the most abundant trees in the forests of the eastern North America. Its presence has been documented to have increased since European arrival in North American and its ongoing spread is said to be changing the nature of eastern forests by reducing the number of oaks and pines. It is a common urban tree, planted as a shade tree and for its attractive fall color. Native Americans found many uses for the tree, as food, fuel, medicine, and for making baskets, furniture, tools, and in beadwork. Tribes in Quebec used its sap to make a syrup and sugar, and today it is sometimes used for production of maple syrup. The boiled inner bark can be used to produce a blue-black dye or ink.