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Red maple seeds

Acer rubrum


I always love watching maples start to bud out in the spring. I think since they're first, I get to enjoy them in greater detail because very little else is competing for my attention. I'd like to understand more about them. For instance, I've always assumed that the ones with red flowers and seeds are red maples (Acer rubrum), but I'm not sure. Anyone with good knowledge of maples care to chime in?


Old Forest State Natural Area, Overton Park, Memphis, TN

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drP 11 years ago

Just saw your comment about the light-red flowers. It might be silver maple or it might be color variation in red maple. If you can go back there, the shape of the seeds is distinctive between the two species. You can also get clues by looking at the fallen leaves at the base of the tree.

drP 11 years ago

While I'm going on about maples, the nice thing about red maples is that they have some red all year long: red flowers in the early spring, red leaf buds in the heart of winter, red on the developing seeds, red petioles on the leaves in the summer, red leaves in the fall.

CricketsBlog 11 years ago

That's a really helpful resource, thanks! We have some maples with paler red (pinkish) flowers that I thought might be silver maple. This one is so striking that I just assumed red maple immediately. I will bookmark that website!

drP 11 years ago

I don't know of any other native maple with red flowers. Silver maple, sugar maple, mountain maple, striped maple/moosewood... none of them have red flowers. Are there any other maples in your area? You can go to the USDA plants database and search by state and by county (though their county distributions are admittedly incomplete).

CricketsBlog 11 years ago

Thanks! I'm pretty sure it's native just due to its placement in the old-growth forest. The only real invasive we deal with in the forest is privet. I'm going to see if I can't get some photos of the bark and add to the spotting (I have to start remembering to zoom out!).

drP 11 years ago

If this is a native tree, I'm going to go out on a limb here (no pun intended) and say it has to be A. rubrum. Beautiful red color and a nice capture of the newly forming seeds.

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Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Spotted on Feb 13, 2013
Submitted on Feb 25, 2013

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