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The Difference Between an Autumn Blaze

Maple & a Red Maple
Red maple's five-lobed leaves turn bright red in autumn.
Red maple (Acer rubrum) is an easy-care deciduous tree appreciated for its brilliant fall color. The
same description applies to Autumn Blaze maple (Acer x freemanii "Jeffersred"), a hybrid resulting
from a cross between red maple and silver maple. The family resemblance between red maple and
Autumn Blaze maple only goes so far, however, and several important differences exist between

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Variety versus Cultivar

Comparing red maple to Autumn Blaze maple is a little like comparing apples to oranges. Red
maple is a variety of maple, while Autumn Blaze is a cultivar. The terms "variety" and "cultivar" are
not synonymous. A tree variety is a type of tree present in nature that can be found growing in the
wild, while a cultivar is a hybrid created by cultivation. Just so, red maple grows wild in a range
extending from eastern Canada south to Florida and west to Texas. Autumn Blaze does not exist in
the wild, and propagation is restricted under its patent.

Autumn Blaze maple is a large tree, but red maple is larger. Cultivated, red maple grows to 70 feet,
while it can achieve 120 feet in the wild. Given sufficient sun, water and elbow room, this
ornamental tree spreads to 50 feet. Autumn Blaze maple tops out at 55 feet, with a 30- to 40-foot
The red maple produces fruit and flowers every year, and both are consistently red. The dense
clusters of showy red flowers appear on male trees every spring in March or April, before the leaves
appear. The female red maple bears red fruit, the winged samara. The Autumn Blaze maple flowers
rarely, but when it does, the blossoms are yellow or chartreuse. Its foliage is green from spring until
autumn, when the leaves turn bright orange-red, the color of a blazing fire.

Cold Hardiness
Autumn Blaze grows best in warmer climates, including the Deep South and the southwest. It
prefers full sun and does well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 though 7,
according to Monrovia, zones 3 through 8, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Red maple
is cold hardy; it can grow in partial shade and thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9.

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