And the winner is……
Chris L. Chandler, Urban Conservation Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky
The question was --- What native tree species is the most common tree in the United States?
The correct answer is the red maple (Acer rubrum). This ubiquitous maple (the state tree of Rhode Island) is adaptable to a very wide range of site conditions, perhaps more so than any other tree in North America. It can be found growing in swamps, on poor dry soils, and most anywhere in between. Elevation is also not a limiting factor in its range, as it grows well from sea level to about 3,000 ft.
Due to its attractive red fall color and pleasing form, it is often used as a shade tree for landscapes, and is found plentifully in woodlands (because of its adaptibility, it is actually becoming known as a minor invasive in native forests). It is used commercially on a small scale for maple syrup production as well as for its wood (called soft maple) used for medium quality lumber.