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Silver maple

A mature specimen of 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.

"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."  



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)

Planting Site:

  • Restricted sites

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Shade tree

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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Wet soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay 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

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Broad,
  • Irregular,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Game birds,
  • Small mammals,
  • Songbirds

More Information:


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.




Location of Acer saccharinum (Silver maple) at the Arboretum