silver maple

(Acer saccharinum)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

silver maple

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

Nativity

Native

Photo by Kirk Nelson
Occurrence

Common

 
Habitat

Bottomland forests, river banks, stream banks, flood plains, and lake edges.

 
Flowering

Late February to early May

     
Flower Color

Greenish-yellow

     
Height

40 to 70

     

Identification

This is a fast-growing, moderately short-lived, deciduous, medium to large tree rising on a single trunk from shallow, fibrous roots. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 40 to 70 tall and up to 36 in diameter, though large individuals can reach over 90 in height. They typically live 100 to 130 years.

The crown is rounded. The trunk is straight and much branched. In the forest the trunk is straight and tall. In the open it is split near the ground into a few branches that ascend sharply.

The branches are opposite, short, sturdy, and ascending to spreading. Larger branches arch outward and droop downward, but ascend at the tip.

The bark on young trees is light gray and smooth. On mature trees the bark is dark reddish-brown and is separated into long vertical plates that are attached in the middle but loose at the top and bottom.

The twigs are thin, yellowish-gray to reddish-brown, smooth, hairless and shiny. They emit an disagreeable odor when bark is bruised or scraped. They appear in a V-shape on the branches. The younger twigs have obvious, small, lighter, pore-like openings (lenticels) that are not raised much above the bark surface. At the end of the twig is a brown, ¼ to long, sharply pointed terminal bud with tight scales. The leaf scars have three bundle scars. The sap is clear, not milky.

The buds are dark brown, egg-shaped to elliptic, ¼ long, and blunt at the tip. They are composed of 6 to 10 dark red overlapping scales. The terminal bud is red and relatively short.

The leaves are opposite, stalked, 4 to 6 long, and nearly as wide. There are no prominent stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. The blades are palmately lobed with 5 deep main lobes. The lobes taper to sharply-pointed tips and sometimes have smaller, secondary lobes. The leaves of silver maple are more deeply lobed than those of any other maple in Minnesota. The lateral lobes are cut ½ to of the way to the base. The space between the lobes (sinus) is angled or V-shaped. The two bottom lobes are much smaller than the two lateral lobes. The central lobe noticeably narrows, with concave sides, toward the base. The sinus at the base of the leaves is open and the two bottom lobes do not overlap. The upper surface is light green and hairless. The lower surface of mature leaves is silvery white and hairless, but green and sometimes hairy when young. The margins have a few coarse, sharp, irregular teeth. The sides and tip of the leaf do not droop. In the fall the leaves turn yellow. Fallen leaves break down quickly.

The inflorescence is a tassel-like cluster of 8 to 14 flowers at or near the tip of the branches.

Male and female flowers are borne on the same tree and but in separate clusters. They appear identical, having both stamens and pistils, but usually only one of the organs is functional. They are greenish-yellow and are on short stalks. They are produced in late February to early May, long before the leaves appear. This is the earliest maple to flower. The flowers are pollinated by wind and bees.

The fruit is a pair of dry seed cases with papery wings attached (double samara). The samaras (or keys) occur in clusters that droop downward from 1 to 3 long stalks. The stalks are longer than the wings. The seed cases are plump, attached the the stalk, and slightly connected to each other. The wings are typically 1¼ to 2½ long, ¼ to 7 16 wide, diverge at a 90° to 120° angle, and are somewhat curved inward. Usually only one seed case contains a single, viable seed, although sometimes both contain seeds, sometimes both are empty. The keys are hairless or sparsely hairy, green initially, turning yellowish green when the seeds are mature, then brown. They fall in the late spring before the leaves are fully mature. Paired keys mature and are shed individually.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Pests and Diseases

Maple velvet erineum gall mite (Aceria aceris) causes greenish or reddish patches (erinea) on the lower surface of silver maple leaves.

Speckled Tar Spot (Rhytisma punctatum) forms many medium-sized spots on maple leaves which, on close examination, are clusters of numerous very small spots.

Tar Spot (Rhytisma americanum) forms few large black spots on maple leaves.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28.
 
Record

The champion silver maple in Minnesota is on private property in or near Spring Grove, in Houston County. In 1988 it was measured at 95 tall and 312 in circumference (99 in diameter).


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Sapindaceae (soapberry)

 

Subfamily:

Hippocastanoideae

 

Genus:

Acer

 

Section:

Rubra

 

Series:

Rubra

 
Synonyms

Acer dasycarpum

Acer saccharinum var. laciniatum

Acer saccharinum var. wieri

Argentacer saccharinum

 
Common
Names

river maple

silver maple

soft maple

white maple


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

palmate

Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.

 

samara

A dry fruit consisting of a seed attached to a papery wing; one seeded in Elms and Ashes, two-seeded in Maples.

 

sinus

A space, indentation, or cleft, usually on a leaf, between two lobes or teeth.

 

stipule

A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Randy


Bark on a towering silver maple in an old woods.

  silver maple    

Kirk Nelson


Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

  silver maple   silver maple

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Leaves

  silver maple   silver maple
       
  silver maple    
       

Bark

  silver maple   silver maple
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Acer saccharinum
Blake C. Willson
 
  Acer saccharinum  
 
About

Silver Maple

 
     
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  Silver Maple  
 
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Copyright DianesDigitals

 
     
  Acer saccharinum
Butler Herbarium
 
  Acer saccharinum  
     
  Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple
Virens (Latin for greening)
 
  Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple  
 
About

Aceraceae - Maple Family

A New York City street tree native to North America.

 
     

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
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Other Videos

 
  How to ID Acer saccharinum
Laura Deeter
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 23, 2008

Key identifying characteristics for Acer saccharinum

 
     
  Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)
wvoutdoorman
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 10, 2013

Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)

 
     
  ApisCity 16/03/2012 Klon srebrzysty (Acer saccharinum L.)
Marcin Szymański
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 17, 2012

Klon na mojej ulicy. Kilkadziesiat metrow od pasieki.

 
     
  Acer saccharinum Wieri De Groene Heren
wander van laar
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 2, 2013

No description available.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this plant.

Randy
11/7/2016

Bark on a towering silver maple in an old woods.

silver maple


Kirk Nelson
2/12/2014

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

silver maple


     
     
 

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