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Consider Autumn Flame Red Maple in Your Landscape Planning

Autumn Flame Red Maple Fall ColorThe Autumn Flame Red Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Flame’) is an excellent shade tree to add to your landscape.  Hybridization is a great tool used by horticulturists to combine the best characteristics of different plants to to create a new variety.  In this case, they crossed the Silver Maple, which has the characteristic of fast growth, with the Red Maple, which has the characteristics of excellent shape and beautiful foliage, to create a fast-growing tree that has excellent shape and color characteristics.

Autumn Flame Red Maple Description

The Autumn Flame Red Maple is one of the tallest varieties of maples.  Since it is a fast growing tree, it reaches its fully mature height much sooner than most; gaining at a rate of about 4 feet each year.  A fully mature tree can reach 60 feet in height, and the trunk can measure up to five feet in diameter.  Maples do best in full sun, although slight shade is tolerated.  Red flowers appear on the same branches as newly emerging green leaves in early spring; one of the first of the year to begin blooming.  As the flowers fade, the beginnings of a seed are evident in their place that will develop over the summer season.

The beautiful leaves of the Autumn Flame Maple are the main reason that it is very popular with landscapers and homeowners. The leaves of this tree have the shape of the leaves of the traditional maple tree; they are bright green, but if you look closely you will notice a hint of red. In the fall, the leaves on this tree will turn a bright red, and some may turn yellow as well.

Planting Guidelines

Autumn Flame Red Maple In SummerWhen planting the Autumn Flame Red Maple, you will want to make sure that it is placed in an area that receives plenty of sunlight, though you can plant it in light shade as well. If you live in a hot dry climate, you may want to plant this tree where it will be in shade to help protect it from the heat and drying out. If your tree does not receive enough moisture it will not produce the large, colorful leaves that it will in moist climates. Be sure to plant this tree where it has sufficient space to grow since it will get large quickly.  Don’t make the mistake of planting it too close to the house.

Pruning Tips

As with all trees, the best opportunity you have to shape the tree is when it is young and you can gut off branches when they are still small.  Trim the tree in early spring when it is beginning to leaf out.  Aslo, when the tree is small, remove the lower branches.  As a tree grows taller, the lower branches do not grow higher.  If there is a branch coming coming out of the trunk at 3 feet above the ground and you don’t remove it, 20 years later, you will still have a branch at 3 feet above the ground, and thais will present difficulty for mowing and other activities around the tree.

About the Photos

The photographs on this page are of the same tree in summer and in fall.  The fall photo was taken in 2009 and the summer photo was taken in 2011.  Notice how much growth has occurred in two years.


2 Responses to Consider Autumn Flame Red Maple in Your Landscape Planning

  1. Clarissa Levy May 5, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    The leaves of the red maple offer the easiest way to distinguish it from its relatives. As with nearly all maple trees, they are deciduous and arranged oppositely on the twig. They are typically 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and wide with 3-5 palmate lobes with a serrated margin. The sinuses are typically narrow, but the leaves can exhibit considerable variation.

  2. Elsie K. Humphrey May 9, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    For a number of years I admired the trees that lined the highway in front of Savage Plants & Landscape, in my home town of Kingston. This maple lets itself be center stage in fall, with leaves in glorious red and scarlet. The bright red is a nice change for the Northwest, where buttery yellows and gold are the normal fall leaf color. I ended up buying one for my garden for its shade in summer and bright leaf color in autumn.

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