Autumn Flame Red Maple

Autumn Flame Red Maple – Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Flame’

Autumn flame maple foliage

A fast-growing maple native to North America, renowned for its spectacular early fall color change. Height:  45 to 50′.  Hardy in zones 4-8. The outstanding ornamental characteristic of this cultivar of Red Maple is the consistently good red to yellow fall color lasting several weeks. It is often one of the first trees to color up in autumn, and it puts on one of the most brilliant displays of any tree. Leaves persist longer in this cultivar than the species. Can be trained to grow multiple trunks.

Autumn flame mapleThis lovely multi-trunked Autumn Flame grows next to Lake Marmo on the Morton Arboretum‘s west side

The tree makes the best growth in wet places and has no other particular soil preference except chlorosis may develop on alkaline soil where it also grows poorly. It is well-suited as a street tree in northern and mid-south climates in residential and other suburban areas but the bark is thin and easily damaged by mowers. Irrigation is often needed to support street tree plantings in well-drained soil in the south. Roots can raise sidewalks as silver maples can but they have a less aggressive root system and so they make a good street tree. Surface roots beneath the canopy can make mowing difficult.

Red Maple is easily transplanted and usually develops surface roots in soil ranging from well-drained sand to clay. It is not especially drought tolerant, particularly in the southern part of the range, but selected individual trees can be found growing on dry sites. This trait shows the wide range of genetic diversity in the species. Branches often grow upright through the crown forming poor attachments to the trunk. These should be removed in the nursery or after planting in the landscape to help prevent branch failure in older trees during storms. Select branches with a wide angle from the trunk and prevent branches from growing larger than half the diameter of the trunk. This will help reduce storm damage. [2]


  1. Autumn Flame Maple, Morton Arboretum acc. 386-83*8, photos October 12, 2010 by Bruce Marlin

Family Aceraceae – Maples
The Maples are some of our most familiar and beloved trees.  Most are native to the far east: China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria. Maples produce a distinctive winged fruit called a samara, also commonly known as helicopters or whirlybirds.
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