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Silverleaf Maple Acer saccharinum

Phonetic Spelling
AY-ser sak-kar-EYE-num
Description

Silver maple is a large shade tree in the Sapindaceae family.  It gets its common name from the silvery undersides of its leaves. It is native to eastern North America and is often found in flood plains, along streams or rivers, or low-lying woodlands.  It has attractive gray to dark brown bark that as the tree matures develops a shaggy appearance as the bark develops long thin flaky scales that exfoliate at the ends.  This tree grows at a rapid pace and has a graceful form making it a once very popular landscape tree.  It has fallen out of favor recently because of its weak wood and tendency toward breakage.  It would make an excellent addition to a rain garden as it can grow in areas of poor soil or wet conditions where other stronger wooded trees cannot. Specific epithet means sugary in reference to the sweet sap.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems though scale and borers may be present. Verticillium wilt, anthracnose, and canker can affect stressed trees. Silver maples grow rapidly so they tend to have weak brittle branches that are susceptible to breaking in high winds or when coated with ice/snow in winter. Shallow roots may damage nearby sidewalks.

Site: Full sun, Partial Shade

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blair'
  • 'Lutescens'
'Blair', 'Lutescens'
Tags:
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Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blair'
  • 'Lutescens'
'Blair', 'Lutescens'
Tags:
#bees#sun#deciduous#shade tree#full sun#partial shade#rain garden#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#partial sun#native tree#moths#green flowers#yellow flowers#tree#maple#samaras#nectar plant#piedmont#shade garden#woody#spring flowers#winter interest#flowering tree#air pollution tolerant#coastal#wet sites#flooding#moist soil#food source#fast growing#NC native#well-drained soil#samara#full sun flowers#full sunlight#nighttime garden#small and large mammals#native garden#mountains#coastal plant#weak wood#green fruits#sunshine#summer interest#coast#coastal areas#disturbed areas#spring interest#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#compaction tolerant#early spring flowers#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#deciduous tree#spring fruits#food source spring#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FACW#wet soils tolerant#native#dry soil#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#banks#butterfly friendly#food source mid-summer#winter flowers#part sun#part shade#flood tolerant#late winter flowers#flowering#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#sun tolerant#flowers#audubon#woodlands#moth larva#imperial moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acer
    Species:
    saccharinum
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Bonsai and to produce maple syrup
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern and central North America
    Distribution:
    Eastern and central North America
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Acer support Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Early spring source of nectar for bees. Seeds are eaten by squirrels, chipmunks and birds. Buds are eaten by squirrels after the seeds have sprouted.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Tolerant of poor soils, drought, dry soil and air pollution tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Open
    Oval
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Samara, not ornamentally important. Wings spreading at an 80 to 90 degree angle. In North Carolina, the samaras are available from April to July.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Insignificant, greenish-yellow to red flowers in early spring. Regular, pentamerous in racemes, corymbs or umbels. In North Carolina, flowers are available from February to April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    3 to 6 in. opposite, palmately veined leaf with 5 deeply cut lobes; silvery underside; medium green on top, yellow, brown, green combination fall color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Shaggy
    Bark Description:
    It has attractive gray to dark brown bark that as the tree matures develops a shaggy appearance as the bark develops long thin flaky scales that exfoliate at the ends.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy tips
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Lustrous red to brown with a smooth surface. Second year stem becoming gray. Silver maples grow rapidly so they tend to have weak brittle branches that are susceptible to breaking in high winds or when coated with ice/snow in winter.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Pond
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Compaction
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weak Wood