Acer saccharinum

Silver Maple




  • eastern United States and central plains, but not in the southeastern states. Also adjacent parts of Canada
  • zone 3

Habit and Form

  • large tree to around 70', but can reach well beyond 100'
  • upright spreading branches form an oval or rounded crown that seems to have sprays of foliage jutting out
  • branches arch over then turn up at the tips
  • fast growing tree, vigorous
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • opposite leaves, 5-lobed, fairly deeply incised
  • bright green color above, silvery below
  • 3" to 5" long leaves, long petioles

Autumn Foliage

  • typically leaves drop a greenish yellow or green
  • some specimens develop reddish tints


  • monoecious with male and female flowers on separate branches of a tree; some flowers may be perfect as well
  • dull reddish orange in early spring
  • small, somewhat showy, but not as noticeable as Acer rubrum or Acer platanoides flowers


  • samaras, 1.3" to 2.3" long, maturing in June
  • one of the larger fruited maples


  • trunk and branches are silvery-gray
  • bark on trunk splits and flakes revealing orangish inner bark
  • bark can be attractive and ornamental


  • easily grown, transplanted and established so data is limited
  • tolerant of a wide range of soils (not high pH)
  • tolerant of drought as well as seasonal flooding
  • tolerant of urban conditions

Landscape Uses

  • shade tree
  • temporary tree where fast growth is needed
  • for difficult sites
  • parks
  • areas that receive seasonal flooding


  • rapid growth creates weak wood which breaks easily in storms or under ice load
  • shallow rooted and causes sidewalk/driveway buckling
  • roots can clog drain pipes
  • produces weed seedlings
  • verticillium wilt, anthracnose, leaf spot, tar spot, several insects
  • manganese chlorosis on high pH soils
  • great genetic variation exists; not all are equally cold hardy

ID Features

  • stems when broken produce a strong odor
  • flower buds in clusters; look like Christmas ornaments
  • buds similar to Acer rubrum, but slightly larger
  • deeply cut foliage
  • silvery bark with orangish furrows
  • "droop and swoop" branch tips


  • by seed
  • by cuttings for selections


'Beebe' - Has somewhat pendulous branches and more deeply cut leaves than species.

'Laciniatum' - A general cultivar for forms selected for their deeply-cut, dissected foliage.

'Silver Cloud' - A form out of Canada with extreme hardiness. The crown is oval and dense.

'Silver Queen' - A common cultivar with upright habit that is rounded when mature (to 50' tall and wide). Leaf color is good -- bright green above, silvery beneath and yellowish in autumn. Another possible benefit is reduced production of bothersome seedlings.

'Skinner' (also seen as 'Skinneri') - Interesting for its cut-leaf character. The branch structure appears to be more horizontal than other cultivars.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.