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"Fall" ing for Red Maples

October 28, 2010

Golden branches bursting in front of deep, dense evergreen spikes as if circled in sun-kissed halos.

Lacy masses of celadon shining amidst dark grayish-brown trunks.

Leaves in the freshest shades of carrot and deepest shades of pumpkin turning heads as much for their ginger sparkle as their soft rustling in the wind.

The auburns, russets and bronzes - ones many don't take particular notice of up close but that make a splash in the overall setting.

And cherries, crimsons, scarlets and rubies - the most desirable hues everyone wants to stop and admire and cherish.


It's a magical time of year where beauty strikes from every angle and in almost every shade. Trees provide a glowing rainbow, a cornucopia of endless color. And one can't argue that red tends to steal the show - the most brilliant of reds coming from the appropriately named red maple due to the color of their flowers. Part of the popular fall beauty of the New England states can be attributed to the majestic maple trees. Traveling to Vermont this past week during the peak of the fall season has me gushing over the autumn color, particularly the red maples.

Even my arborist friend, Davey's Greg Mazur, admits: "I like them best."

Red maples are typically found in home landscapes because they are popular for their outstanding fall color. Other maples, like the sugar maple has leaves that turn lemon and orange in the fall, are usually found in older, mature landscapes or wooded areas. All maples add to the beauty of fall.

red maple leaf

Maples are also attractive for their signature leaf shape - with three or five lobes. Canadians even boast the sugar maple leaf on their flag. It's one of those distinctive leaf silhouettes children want to make crayon rubbings of or preserve between wax paper, Mazur says.

The distinctive fruit of the maple tree are also very recognizable. The seeds are winged and float to the ground in a soft spinning motion, which is why they are sometimes called "whirlybirds" or helicopters.

Red maples also grow rather quickly and can live 80 to 150 years, being rather strong, solid trees, Mazur says. They require minimum upkeep, are typically drought resistant, thrive in many locations and are relatively affordable. Sugar maples are even stronger, but are slower growing, which contributes to their longevity - they can grow to 400 years old, Mazur explains.

As if color, leaf shape and fun-flying fruit aren't enough, maples are also responsible for the sticky and delectable syrup I poured over my pancakes this morning. And the concentration of sugar in the tree sap is higher in the sugar maple than other maple varieties, but Mazur says you can get sap for syrup from any type of maple tree. But this isn't a job you should try to do at home by yourself, he is quick to add. "It takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to get just one gallon of syrup," he explains.

Hopefully, I've inspired you to take a moment from your busy day and go outside to enjoy this breathtaking, and unfortunately fleeting, fall color. Remember to take particular notice of the yellows and oranges the sugar maples are showing and, of course, the brilliant brick tones brought on by the red maples.

Check back tomorrow when I reveal what my Halloween costume is this year and show you what you can do with all the fall leaves you collect.

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