Red maple is a medium to large tree often reaching more than 40 feet tall. Leaves are somewhat triangular in shape generally with three lobes. Flowers appear in early to mid spring in clusters before the leaves emerge. Male flowers lack the intense red color of female flowers. The familiar samara fruits develop later in spring and are about one inch long and nearly half an inch wide. Bark is smooth and light gray in young trees, but darkens and roughens as trees age. Fall color may be a brilliant red, but may also be bright yellow.
Cultivars are often created to enhance certain characteristics such as fall color and color is less variable. Red Sunset is the registered trademark name of the cultivar ‘Franksred’. It produces a consistent orange to bright red fall color. Red maples grow over most of eastern North America, but when planting one it is good to have one grown in that area as trees grown in one area may not adapt well to other areas even if they are the same species.