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Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Red Maple
Acer rubrum

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them[18, 20].

The boiled inner bark yields a purple colour[4, 57, 82]. Mixed with lead sulphate this produces a black dye which can also be used as an ink[4]. The dye is dark blue according to another report[95].

The wood is used to make basket splints[257].

This species can successfully establish itself in recently cleared areas and partially open woodlands[229]. It can therefore be used as a pioneer species to speed the regeneration of woodland[K].

Wood – not strong, close grained, hard, very heavy[46, 82, 227]. It weighs 38lb per cubic foot[227]. The grain of some old specimens is undulated, this gives beautiful effects of light and shade on polished surfaces[4]. The wood is commonly used for making furniture, turnery, pulp, etc[46, 82, 227].

  • Medicinal Use

    The bark has astringent properties and has been used as an application for sore eyes[4]. The inner bark was used according to one report[257].

    An infusion of the bark has been used to treat cramps and dysentery[257].

  • Edible Use

    The sap contains sugar and this can be used as a drink or be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water[2, 11, 74, 159]. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. This species only yields about half the quantity obtained from the sugar maple (A. saccharum)[4]. It makes a good maple syrup although the yield is comparatively small[183]. It can be harvested in late winter, the flow is best on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

    Inner bark – cooked[105, 177]. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[161].

    Self-sown seedlings, gathered in early spring, are eaten fresh or dried for later use[213].

    Seeds – cooked. The wings are removed and the seeds boiled then eaten hot[213]. The seed is very small, about 5mm long, and is produced in small clusters[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the spring in a cold frame. It usually germinates immediately and by the end of summer has formed a small tree with several pairs of leaves[82]. Stored seed quickly loses its viability. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8¡c. It can be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil[11, 98], though this species succeeds in wetter soils than most other members of the genus. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes chalk according to one report[98], whilst others say that it does less well on chalk[200], often becoming chlorotic as a result of iron deficiency. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates some shade. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[200]. A fast-growing tree for the first 20 – 30years of its life, it may live for 75 – 100 years[229]. Red maple is a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants[18, 20]. A variable species with several sub-species[227], there are also many named varieties that have been selected for their ornamental value[200]. This species is often confused with A. saccharinum[11].
Eastern N. America – Quebec to Florida, west to Texas, Minnesota and Ontario.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.