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The Red Maple, (Aceraceae Acer rubrum,) , also known as the Swamp Maple or Soft Maple, was voted as the state tree by school children in the 1890's. But it wasn't officially adopted as the state tree until March 6, 1964. In the fall, the leaves turn gold, purple, and scarlet, adding to the beauty of Rhode Island's forests.
The Red Maple is widely planted as an ornamental tree in public park settings, along streets, and in private yards throughout North America. It is relatively easy to cultivate from seed and grows very rapidly once established.
Red Maple wood is somewhat soft. It is commonly used in products like clothespins, veneer, interior moldings, and inexpensive furniture. The tree produces high quality sugar, but its yield pales in comparison to the Sugar Maple and Black Maple due primarily to the fact that it begins growth much earlier in the season resulting in a shorter sugar collection period. In past times, tannin was extracted from Red Maple trees for clothing dye and ink production.
Red maple is also known as scarlet maple, swamp maple, soft maple, Carolina red maple, Drummond red maple, and water maple.
Many foresters consider the tree inferior and undesirable because it is often poorly formed and defective, especially on poor sites. On good sites, however, it may grow fast with good form and quality for saw logs. Red maple is a subclimax species that can occupy over story space but is usually replaced by other species. It is classed as shade tolerant and as a prolific sprouter. It has great ecological amplitude from sea level to about 900 m (3,000 ft) and grows over a wide range of microhabitat sites. It ranks high as a shade tree for landscapes.
The law designating the red maple as the official Rhode Island state tree is found in the Rhode Island General Laws, Title 42 (State Affairs and Government) Chapter 4 (State Emblems) Section Section 42-4-8.
State Affairs and Government
§ 42-4-8 State tree. - The tree commonly known as the "red maple" (acer rubrum) is hereby designated as the state tree.
History of Section.
(G.L. 1956, § 42-4-8; P.L. 1964, ch. 13, § 1.)
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Red Maple
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Aceraceae - Maple family
Genus: Acer L. - maple
Species: Acer rubrum L. --red maple