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Native Plants Series: Red Maple

Acer rubrum (Red Maple) is native to Eastern and central North American, including SC PA. They need full sun or part shade, and prefer slightly moist acid soil, although they will tolerate a wide range of soils.

New growth is typically tinged red, and it is most famous for its bright red fall color. Size and color are ultimately determined by the cultivar you purchase. Some have been developed specifically for use as street trees, most should be used as a specimen plant in the landscape.

Here in SC PA maples are a host plant for 293 types of caterpillars - that's a lot of moths and butterflies, and bird food, too! A question you may ask is - do non-native maple trees support as much wildlife as native maple trees do?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Not all of our native wildlife can use non-native varieties, even if they are all maples. Most of our insect larvae are specialists rather than generalists. The same is likely true for all other plants that have both native and non-native options. So yes, that means your Japanese maple cannot support nearly as much wildlife as a native maple can. Also, be aware that Japanese maples are starting to become invasive in some parts of the country and are on the @padcnr invasive species list, so please consider that before purchasing one!

Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, National Wildlife Federation

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