silver maple

(Acer saccharinum)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

silver maple


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland



Photo by Kirk Nelson



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


Late February to early May

Flower Color



40 to 70



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.



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.

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).





Sapindaceae (soapberry)














Acer dasycarpum

Acer saccharinum var. laciniatum

Acer saccharinum var. wieri

Argentacer saccharinum


river maple

silver maple

soft maple

white maple












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



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



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



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



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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Bark on a towering silver maple in an old woods.

  silver maple    

Kirk Nelson

Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

  silver maple   silver maple




  silver maple   silver maple
  silver maple    


  silver maple   silver maple





  Acer saccharinum
Blake C. Willson
  Acer saccharinum  

Silver Maple

  Silver Maple
  Silver Maple  

Copyright DianesDigitals

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

Aceraceae - Maple Family

A New York City street tree native to North America.





Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  How to ID Acer saccharinum
Laura Deeter

Uploaded on Oct 23, 2008

Key identifying characteristics for Acer saccharinum

  Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)

Published on Sep 10, 2013

Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)

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

Published on Mar 17, 2012

Klon na mojej ulicy. Kilkadziesiat metrow od pasieki.

  Acer saccharinum Wieri De Groene Heren
wander van laar

Published on Jun 2, 2013

No description available.





Visitor Sightings

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Bark on a towering silver maple in an old woods.

silver maple

Kirk Nelson

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

silver maple



Afton State Park

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

French Regional Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Hastings SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR
Chaska Unit
Louisville Swamp Unit
Rapids Lake Unit
Wilkie Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Moose Lake State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Rice Lake State Park

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Seminary Fen SNA

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Townsend Woods SNA

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo Prairie SNA

Wild River State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA




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