Acer rubrum

April 19, 2015

This time of year in Maine change happens quickly: each day new plants emerge, new bird species arrive back, new growth appears on the trees.  One transitory event that I particularly enjoy is the reddening of the soft maples (aka red maples Acer rubrum) in the woods.  The hardy soft maple is not particularly loved or valued since it’s not as good for lumber or syrup as the hardwood maple species, and because it tends to crowd out other trees.  But I love the bold red color of its buds and flowers, both of which appear before the green leaves.  The buds of the soft maple can make the bare, leafless spring woods  in Maine spark with color.   For a brief window of time in mid-April a pure stand of soft maples will appear as a swatch of vibrant red in the distant hills.  At first glance this deep, rich color might seem autumnal, but it’s not; this is the intense, fiery red of new life.

Red Maple 2

Maple twigs blaze red

against blue enamel sky

Smell of fresh turned earth



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