Red maple or swamp maple is native to eastern north america, from newfoundland to florida. It is an attractive, deciduous, erect, medium-sized tree, well adapted to a range of soil conditions and grows in open sun or partial shade in sites that are either well drained or moist. The tree has a smooth gray bark when young, bark becoming darker and cracked when mature. Leaves 2-4 inches long with 3-5 lobes and serrated margins. Depending upon location, leaves in the fall may become yellow or red. Red maple has few pest problems, but is vulnerable to fire. Twigs are reddish in color, which may account for the common name. Trees mature in about 10 years and bear distinctive maple tree family winged seeds (samaras) less than 1 inch long for a period of 1-2 weeks. Seeds can be used for propagation and also provide food for birds and squirrels. In addition to general landscape use, red maple is a good tree for revegetation of degraded areas. Leaves are not preferred by deer as a browse species. The wood is an undesirable lumber source but fine for firewood.
Native americans used red maple bark as an analgesic, wash for inflamed eyes and cataracts, and as a remedy for hives and muscular aches. Tea brewed from the inner bark has been used for treating coughs and diarrhea. Pioneers made cinnamon- brown and black dyes from a bark extract. Iron sulphate was added to the tannin from red maple bark to make ink.