Key identifying features.. Look for a
tree with tiny red flowers in early spring.
Common name.. Red Sunset Red Maple
Scientific name.. Acer rubrum - 'Red
Mature height.. 50 to 60 feet
Mature spread.. 40 to 50 feet
Form.. Oval, symmetrical canopy becoming
broad at maturity.
Fruit.. Samaras take flight later in
spring, providing a feast for the birds and squirrels who love to eat them.
Flowers.. Tiny red flowers are the first
sign of spring in the trees.
|April 8, 2006
Foliage.. Deciduous; star-shaped leaves
are sometimes tinged red when they first emerge in spring, changing to clear glossy green all summer, then to brilliant red
in late fall. These stunning red leaves hang on for at least three weeks most years, making the Red Sunset one of the best
trees for fall color. Leaves are opposite, simple, lobed. Many of the leaf stems are red, at least for the first few weeks.
Growth rate.. Fast; two feet or more
a year. (See the growth chart for more pictures.)
Culture.. Requires full sun to partial
shade. While the tree is drought tolerant once established, it prefers wet soil or at least to be kept moist for optimal growth.
(Red maples are also known as swamp maples; they like their water!) This red maple variety is highly adaptable to many soil
Best time to prune.. In fall or early
winter, when the tree is dormant, or, in summer once the leaves have reached full size.
Of special note.. This tree should be
pruned to develop a strong central leader. Surface roots can be a problem. April 2006: I am noticing surface roots in the
sideyard where this tree is planted that were not there before. I hadn't noticed them because it's the sideyard -- we don't
use it very much.
Julie's Comments.. (June
2004) The Red Sunset red maple is a beautiful tree year-round. The tiny red flowers that emerge in early March are the first
sign of spring. By then, I'm usually pining for spring to come. The little flowers decorate the tree for four weeks or so
before the leaves begin to emerge, and when they do, some of them will be such a beautiful pale green that I just have to
get out my camera and hang out on the roof so I can take their portraits. Later in spring, as new leaves are added, they often
are rusty red for a few days before turning green. In late October, the tree begins slowly to prepare for winter by changing
from deep green to brilliant red. The mix of colors at first seems brown, then watch out! That brilliant red takes over and
everything within 10 feet of the tree takes on a reflected pink cast, which takes my breath away. In winter, the branch ends
and twigs are burgundy red, making this tree especially beautiful on a snowy day. But as for me, I just look for the buds
to burst in spring with those little red flowers, my symbol that hope springs eternal.
Planting date.. October
1999. Height: 11 feet. Trunk diameter: 1.5 inches. Poor thing underwent severe stress immediately after planting. The root
ball had been gathered with fake burlap, which meant it had to come off. In the removal process, the roots fell apart and
this made getting the tree into the planting hole a bit difficult. Two days later, we had a major windstorm during which I
thought the tree was going down. (I was literally out there in the wind trying to hold up the tree!) Within a day, almost
all the leaves had fallen off. I was actually relatively certain the tree was dead, or dying, but I was determined to give
it a chance. We added stakes, and continued to give the baby tree a good soaking once a week. By late winter, I could tell
the twigs were healthy. Soon after, little red flower buds started to appear. I was jumping for joy! The leaves were very
small that year, indicating the tree was still under stress, but take a look at the portraits on the growth chart -- this tree is a happy camper now!
DO OVER?.. Yes, but not
in a spot where surface roots would be a pain to mow around or play near.