Springtime celebrations would not be complete without some forest confetti. One of the first trees to bloom in springtime, the red maple has tiny, vibrant clusters of flowers that put on quite the show.
Looking closely at their blooms, you can see pollen-bearing male flowers that look like fireworks and darker, Medusa-like female flowers. Once the male flowers have faded, they fall off and cover the ground like crimson confetti. If pollinated, the female flowers will develop into fruits called samaras, commonly called whirligigs or helicopters.
Red maples are valued for more than just their flowers. These native trees also:
- provide food for pollinators and wildlife;
- make good street or ornamental trees because they generally tolerate wet and dry conditions;
- can be used to make maple syrup (though their sap has less sugar than sugar maples);
- have spectacular fall foliage; and
- are used for furniture, musical instruments, bowls, cutting boards, firewood, and pulpwood.
Photos, from above: male red maple flowers; and male flowers after they fall courtesy DEC.