Red maple

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Hiroshige 'Red Maple Leaves'; MFA Acc# 11.20540


A deciduous maple tree, Acer rubrum, native to eastern North America that turns bright red in autumn. The red maple trees is considered on of the 'soft maples' as its wood is less dense than that of the 'hard maples'. The trees can grow to heights of 40m and diameters of 1m. The wood is typically used for engraving blocks, carving and paper pulp The bark and leaves from the red maple tree produce a dye that colors Cotton and Wool a cinnamon color with an alum mordant and a black color with an iron mordant.

Red maple Acer rubrum

Synonyms and Related Terms

Acer rubrum; rode esdoorn (Ned.); érable pourpre (Fr.); arce rojo (Esp.); acero rosso (It.); soft maple; water maple; scarlet flowering maple; swamp maple

Physical and Chemical Properties

Height = 20-40m Flowers = small clusters of yellow-red slowers in early spring Fruit = clusters of small samara with divergent wings. Bark = grayish with fine platy scales. Density = 33 ppcf

Working Properties

Soft maples produce a wood that is lighter in weight and coarser in grain than the hard maples. It is not as stiff but it resists warping and twisting better. Their lower desnity allows easier glueing and staining but the surface will not produce a high polish.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Hardwood Manufacturers Institute, Memphis, Tenn.: air-dry weight = 33 pcf
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 498
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997