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Tuesday - January 18, 2011

From: Lawton, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Looking for a Drummond Red Maple in Lawton, OK.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I would like to buy a female Drummond red maple from a local retailer but it's Jan.12 and those he has in stock are leafless with just the beginnings of buds showing. They are about 20 feet tall and in very large containers. How can I know for sure that one is truly a Drummond variety (he does not seem to be very knowledgeable on this). And how can I tell whether it's a male or female w/o waiting for blooms or seeds to appear. If I do have to wait for flowers or seeds then when is that likely to happen and what would I look for at that point? Would it be too late in the season to plant it after it has shown flowers or seeds? Thanks, K.P.


It appears that you have three types of questions going here: one  involves identity, a second involves reproductive capability, and the third involves timing.

Let’s start by learning a little about this tree. The Drummond Red Maple (Acer rubrum var. drummondii (Drummond's maple)) is a variety of Red Maple, and tends to prefer swampy sites in nature. You would want to plant it in a moist area with slightly acidic soil. One character that sets it apart from the Red Maple Acer rubrum (Red maple) is that the under side of the leaves is very hairy (tomentose). See images from Duke University.
It is a dioecious species meaning that it has “male” and “female” flowers on separate plants. I prefer to use the terms staminate (male flowers) and pistillate (female flowers) to describe the two types of plants. The flowers are not showy, but they are distinctive. At this link from Louisiana State University,  look at the pictures of the flowers (as well as the leaves). Image 11 of 16 shows pistillate flowers; notice the v-shaped stigma protruding. Image 13 of 16 shows pistillate flowers with early fruit development (samaras). Image 14 of 16 shows staminate flowers with the stamens protruding.

So if the tree you are considering has leaves and flowers on it,  you can answer your first two questions. The Drummond Maple can begin to flower and leaf out as early as February, so by March or April, you should be able to plant your tree.

Another question that you might consider: “Can a tree that is known as the Swamp Maple find happiness in Lawton, OK?” For help with this question, I would suggest contacting the Commanche County Office of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension and the Central Chapter of the Oklahoma Native Plant Society.

Acer rubrum var. drummondii

Acer rubrum

           Acer rubrum            pistillate flowers

               Acer rubrum                     staminate flowers



























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