The Red Maples are flowering

March 24th, 2013 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

acer rubrum flowerThe Red or Swamp Maple, Acer rubrum, is always noticed for its intense flame color in the fall, but I love these trees best right now – when they are covered in flowers prior to foliation.

From a distance the light gray bark of the tree sets off the pink & maroon flowers creating a stunning effect – it’s as if the tree is full of red fuzz.  In order to see these gorgeous tiny flowers, you need to find a tree with low hanging branches and get up close; they are only about an 1-1 1/2″ long.

The Acer rubrum is native to North America, East of the Mississippi from the Southern US to Canada.  The tree is monoecious and carries both male and female flowers, but bears them on separate branches.   The flowers with a darker red color are identified as the females. It is a very popular street tree in Seattle, so keep your eyes open while traveling around the city right now, you can’t miss them.