The red maple is an extremely common species found throughout all of Michigan. It is a very aggressive colonizing species and can be found in a wide range of forest types. The red maple is also a common ornamental tree, being used in landscaping and in urban areas, highly popular for its fall coloration.
The leaves of red maples are lobed with serrate leaf margins. The leaves are commonly seen with 3 lobes, but they can have up to 5. The leaves are a bright green on the upper side and a silvery-green on the underside.
Some trees have easily identifiable bark, but the red maple can be somewhat tricky to identify. The red maple’s bark is smooth, thin and light colored when young. Older trunks are rough-ridged and dark gray. A unique characteristic is a “bullseye” pattern that can sometimes be seen farther up their trunk.
The fruit of a red maple is called a samara, more commonly known as “helicopters” due to the swirling motion they make as they fall to the ground. The red maple’s samaras are small in size and the two wings form a narrow “v” shape.
Department of Natural Resources