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Silver Maple Acer saccharinum


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Silver Maple, fruit
credit: Jason Sturner 72/CCSA

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Family: Aceraceae, Maple view all from this family

Description Relatively fast-growing deciduous tree. Bark gray and shaggy. Leaves palmate, 8–16 cm. long and 6–12 cm. broad, with deep angular notches between the five lobes. Slender stalks of the leaves mean that even a light breeze can produce a striking effect as the silver undersides of the leaves are exposed. Flowers in small panicles, produced before the leaves in early spring, with the seeds maturing in early summer. Seeds winged, in pairs, small (5–10 mm. diameter), wing about 3–5 cm. long. Wings provide for some transport by air, the seeds are heavy and also transported by water.

Dimensions Height: 15-24 m. (50-80 ft.)
Diameter: 0.9 m. (3 ft.).

Habitat Swamps (fresh & salt), Watersides (fresh).

Range Plains, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Southeast, Great Lakes, Northwest, New England.

Discussion Large rounded buds of the silver maple one of the primary food sources for squirrels during the spring, after many acorns and nuts have sprouted and the squirrels' food is scarce. Seeds, the largest of any native maple, also a food source for wildlife.

Comments Silver maple is fast growing, flood tolerant and very susceptible to wind and ice damage. Its vigorous root system can cause sidewalks to buckle and drain tiles to clog. It is susceptible to a wide range of disease and insect problems and chlorosis in high pH. Seeds can be messy; where this is objectionable, seedless male selections may be used. Attention must be given young trees to corrective pruning for a strong branching system, because of the species' inherant weak crown structure.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial shade.

Native Distribution New Brunswick to e. Ontario & Minnesota, s. to n.w. Florida, e. Oklahoma & e. Nebraska

Site Preference Rich bottomlands; moist hillsides; river banks

Soil Preference Rich, wet to moist, slightly acid soils.