Drummond Red MapleAcer rubrum var. drummondii
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Acer rubrum var. drummondii
Outdoor Growing zone
Drummond Red Maple is a large shade or specimen tree that grows rapidly reaching 40 feet tall and more, and 20 to 40 feet wide. The large leaves are typical ‘maple’ leaves, hand-like, with 3 or 5 spreading lobes. Fall color is rich red, even in hotter zones. The light-gray branches are studded with abundant small red flowers in spring, which develop into maple keys that are bright red while growing. Grow it as a specimen on a large lawn, in the corners of your yard, or in woodland areas. It can be grown as an avenue, and even as a hedge or a bonsai tree.
Plant Drummond Red Maple in full sun, in soil that can be wet, normal or even slightly dry. Acid soils are best, as alkaline soils can cause leaf yellowing. Pests and diseases are rarely problems, and once established this tree is self-maintaining. Some pruning while young will develop a clean trunk and a durable crown.
When choosing trees, a strong foundation of our wonderful native trees is the way to go, even if you grow exotics in your garden as well. Trees are with us a long time, and native trees enrich the environment, providing food and shelter for our birds, animals and insects. But we don’t want to pass up beauty, so when looking for a large native specimen tree, we need look no further than the glorious red maple. Adaptable to many growing zones, and different soils, the tree of choice for warmer states is surely Drummond Red Maple, a natural variant of this wide-spread species. Not as cold hardy as some other red maple varieties, you might find it as far north as southern Illinois, but it is in the South and Texas where it can be abundant. A magnificent tree, notable for its red spring flowers on bare branches, glowing red leaves in fall, and bright red seed clusters, it’s a tree to relish, and to grow. If you have the room for a tree that may pass 50 feet in time, don’t hesitate to choose it. It thrives in wet, acidic ground, but is almost as happy in regular conditions, and drought tolerant when established, plant it and you can look forward to a long and wonderful relationship with this great tree.
Drummond Red Maple is a large deciduous tree that can grow by as much as 2 feet a year when young, soon developing a sturdy central trunk and relatively narrow, upright crown. It will continue to grow to at least 40 feet, and in ideal conditions, in time, it can reach 60 feet or more, with a spread of up to 40 feet – narrower than many other large shade trees. When planting, allow plenty of room for its potential size, and don’t plant beneath overhead lines, or within 20 feet of a building, fence, wall or property line – unless neighbors agree. The bark on younger trees is smooth and light gray, looking very attractive in winter. Older trees develop darker, more rugged and rough bark on the trunk and main limbs. The leaves are up to 4 inches across, divided into 3 or 5 lobes, in a typical ‘maple leaf’ look. Spring leaves can be reddish, quickly becoming light and then mid-green by early summer. The underside of the leaves of this variety are softly hairy. In fall the leaves turn rich, bold shades of red.
Even young trees flower, and the flowers are small but abundant, carried on bare branches before the leaves appear. There are separate male and female flowers, often on separate trees, but not always. The bright red flowers (male flowers have some yellow too) are showy, and give a beautiful red haze to the light gray branches. Flowers develop during summer among the leaves into clusters of typical maple keys. These are bright red when young, ripening to light tan brown. They are relatively small – about 1 inch long, and unlike many other maples, they are especially messy because they quickly crumble and disappear after falling.
As a specimen on a large lawn, as a background tree around the edges of your property, or planted in natural areas to develop woodlands, Drummond Red Maple is going to be a winner. Adaptable and reliable, after a little care in the early years it will do everything for itself – just sit back and enjoy the fun of watching it grow. It can be grown as a screen or avenue – space plants 20 to 30 feet apart – and even turned into a unique hedge. Bonsai growers love it for the flowers, red seeds and fall leaves.
Not as hardy as northern varieties, which will grow in zone 3, Drummond Red Maple is best in warmer zones, and thrives in zones 7, 8 and 9, in areas with hot summers and mild winters. It is however certainly completely hardy in zone 5.
Plant in full sun, or where it will, in a few years, reach full sun as it grows. Drummond Red Maple is very adaptable to different soils, but it does prefer slightly acidic soils, and can show chlorosis – yellow leaves with green veins – when grown on alkaline soils. One common name is ‘swamp red maple’, because this variety thrives in wet and swampy ground, making it a great choice for river edges and areas prone to seasonal flooding. Once established, though, it is perfectly tough and reliable in regular and even drier places, especially so in cooler zones.
Pests and diseases are rarely serious issues with Drummond Red Maple, and this tough and adaptable tree is easy to grow, and generally trouble-free. If you need a taller trunk, begin removing lower branches after a couple of seasons of establishment, so that you don’t leave scars on the trunk. Once it is growing well, remove some of the interior smaller branches to develop a more open crown. Nothing else is needed, so sit back and enjoy your beautiful tree.
Red maple, Acer rubrum, is a widely-distributed native tree, found throughout eastern and central North America, and is our most abundant native tree. In one form or another it can be found from Newfoundland in Canada to Florida, and west into Minnesota and eastern Texas. In the south the predominant variety is ‘swamp red maple’, the variety drummondii. It is named after Thomas Drummond, a Scottish naturalist who came to America in 1830 to collect plants, and focused especially on Texas, being the first to collect plants there and send them to botanists around the world. Today some authorities don’t give a lot of attention to these different varieties, but in the case of Drummond Red Maple it is easily recognized by the hairiness of the lower side of the leaf – other forms are smooth. It has good adaptation to wet ground and hotter summers.
It always makes us feel good selling a native tree to a good home – like yours. While there are lots of wonderful exotic trees and plants, it’s always great to ‘go native’, especially with your larger trees. There are many varieties of red maple, but for warmer zones, Drummond Red Maple is the top choice. Order now, while our supplies of this tree last, because it isn’t widely available and will soon sell out.