Rhode Island State Tree: Red Maple

The Red Maple is widely planted as an ornamental tree in public park settings, along streets, and in private yards throughout North America. It is relatively easy to cultivate from seed and grows very rapidly once established.

Rhode Island State Tree: Red Maple
Red Maple wood is somewhat soft. It is commonly used in products like clothespins, veneer, interior moldings, and inexpensive furniture. The tree produces high quality sugar, but its yield pales in comparison to the Sugar Maple and Black Maple due primarily to the fact that it begins growth much earlier in the season resulting in a shorter sugar collection period. In past times, tannin was extracted from Red Maple trees for clothing dye and ink production.

Common names
Red maple is also known as scarlet maple, swamp maple, soft maple, Carolina red maple, Drummond red maple, and water maple.

Identification of the Red Maple Rhode Island State Tree: Red Maple
Many foresters consider the tree inferior and undesirable because it is often poorly formed and defective, especially on poor sites. On good sites, however, it may grow fast with good form and quality for saw logs. Red maple is a subclimax species that can occupy over story space but is usually replaced by other species. It is classed as shade tolerant and as a prolific sprouter. It has great ecological amplitude from sea level to about 900 m (3,000 ft) and grows over a wide range of microhabitat sites. It ranks high as a shade tree for landscapes.

Leaf: Opposite, 3 to 5 palmate lobes with serrate margins, sinuses relatively shallow (but variable), 2 to 4 inches long; light green above, whitened and sometimes glaucous or hairy beneath.
Flower: Appear March to May, usually before leaves; usually bright red but occasionally yellow.
Fruit: Clusters of 1/2 to 3/4 inch long fruit with slighly divergent wings, appear May to June, on long slender stems. Light brown and often reddish.
Twig: Reddish and lustrous with small lenticels, buds usually blunt, green or reddish (fall and winter) with several scales usually present, leaf scars V-shaped, 3 bundle scars, lateral buds slightly stalked, may be collateral buds present.
Bark: On young trees, smooth and light gray, with age becomes darker and breaks up into long scaly plates.
Form: Medium-sized tree. In forest, trunk usually clear for some distance, in the open the trunk is shorter and the crown rounded.

State of Rhode Island General Laws

State Affairs and Government
State Emblems
SECTION 42-4-8

§ 42-4-8 State tree. – The tree commonly known as the "red maple" (acer rubrum) is hereby designated as the state tree.

History of Section.
(G.L. 1956, § 42-4-8; P.L. 1964, ch. 13, § 1.)
Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Red Maple

Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta --Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta --Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida --Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae --
Order Sapindales --
Family Aceraceae --Maple family
Genus Acer L. --maple
Species Acer rubrum L. --red maple

Dendrology at Virginia Tech
US Department of Agriculture