Friday, October 5, 2012

The best red maple for fall color

Acer rubrum Red Sunset®

The oaks and hickories that dominate the tree canopy in West Tennessee provide various shades of yellow and rich browns in autumn. Species with orange and red fall foliage offer striking accents to this color palette. 

According to Michael Dirr, Acer rubrum Red Sunset ®, is one of the best species for “orange to red fall color.”  The glossy green summer foliage begins to turn to brilliant red by mid-October. Throughout the year this tree is a landscape asset. As it ages, the smooth gray bark becomes darker and develops ridges. In the spring the samaras are a favorite of birds and squirrels.  The University of Florida Extension recommends it as “well suited for the south.”

The Acer rubrum Red Sunset® is a fast growing pyramidal to oval shaped tree that can reach 40-50 ft. with a 30-40 ft. spread. This low maintenance tree well suited to parks and makes an excellent specimen tree for lawns. Since it prefers moist sites, both UT and Missouri Botanical Garden endorse Acer rubrum Red Sunset® for rain gardens and bioswales.

--Jan Castillo

(Note:  the photo was taken at Memphis Botanic Garden, northwest of the parking area.)

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