Seed of the Week: Red Maple

Our mystery “seeds” from last week were from a red maple, Acer rubrum.

red maple seedsThe word “seeds” is in quotes because the winged maple keys are technically samaras. The seed itself is within the oval thickened part.

red-maple-leaves-465Red maples are common deciduous trees found throughout eastern North America. The leaves often turn brilliant red in the fall.

The leaves of the red maple vary, with three-to-five lobed varieties.

Acer_rubrum-3-lobed(Public domain photograph of three-lobed red maple leaves from Wikimedia.)

five-lobed-red-Maple_Leaf(Public domain photograph of five-lobed red maple leaf from Wikimedia).

The five-lobed red maple varieties closely resemble sugar maple leaves. The best way to distinguish them is that the the red maple leaves have V-shaped notch between the lobes, whereas the sugar maple leaves have rounded or U-shaped notches (see a photo of leaves of the two species side-by-side at Maine Nature News.)


Red maple seeds do grow from seeds, but may require scarification (scratching) to germinate.

Have you ever seen a red maple tree? Did it have three- or five-lobed leaves?


  1. Audrey Everett

    Had some of these fly into the yard last week. I planted them and they’re growing already. And idea how long it will be before we have trees?

  2. Roberta

    Depends a bit on where you live, but probably roughly 10 years.

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