TREES & plants

Silver maple

Silver maple is a tall, fast-growing, native tree of eastern North America. It is usually found growing in open sunlight along creeks and waterways. This species has become over planted. Without proper and frequent pruning high winds and ice can cause limbs to break. Many authorities recommend against planting silver maple.

Botanical name: 
Acer saccharinum
All Common Names: 
silver maple, swamp maple, water maple, silverleaf maple, white maple, soft maple
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Maple)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Shade
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
50-70 feet
Mature Width: 
30-50 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Wet soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Aggressive
  • Commonly planted
  • Highly susceptible to ice damage
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Roots prone to invading sewer pipes
  • Weak wood and branch structure
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
  • Spreading
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Game birds
  • Small mammals
  • Songbirds
More Information: 

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum)Silver maple (Acer saccharinum)photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

Without proper and frequent pruning high winds and ice can cause limbs to break. Prune in summer.
Drought sensitive, provide supplemental water in dry periods.
Many authorities recommend against planting silver maple.

Disease, pests, and problems

May be weedy, spreading many seedlings in lawns and gardens. Weak wooded and is prone to storm damage.
Has a vigorous root system that can invade sewer pipes.
Verticillium wilt,  anthracnose, tar spot, cottony maple scale, maple bladder gall.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 0

Native throughout most of the eastern United States.  Typically found growing in wet bottomlands.

Bark color and texture 

Young bark is smooth and gray and develops long wide strips that turn upward at the ends as tree age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite leaves are medium green about 3 to 6 inches long;  5 lobed, with silvery underside.
Green in summer; yellow-green in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size


Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), 2 inches long.