Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 493 Acer saccharinum

Common Names: silver maple, soft maple, white maple, river maple Family: Aceraceae (maple Family)
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silver maple tree
The silver maple grows rapidly into a large tree and is a good choice if you need quick shade and have the space.
silver maple flower
Silver maple leaves often turn to brilliant shades of yellow, orange or red in autumn.


This medium-sized maple attains heights of 60-80 ft (18.3-24.4 m) and diameters from 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m). It has deciduous, opposite, lobed leaves that are pale green above and silvery below. The leaves often turn yellow or red in the fall. As the tree matures its smooth, silvery bark breaks into long scaly plates.


Silver maple, Acer saccharinum, is native to North America where it has a very wide geographic range. It occurs from northeastern Canada, west to Michigan and South Dakota, south to Florida, and west to Arkansas. It grows on a wide variety of sites, but attains its best growth on rich, well drained alluvial soils along rivers in the Midwest.


Light: Full sun to partial shade. Moisture: Moist, well drained. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 8. Propagation: Seeds and cuttings.
silver maple flower
The attractively hued flowers of the silver maple appear in late winter or very early spring.
silver maple flower
Within a week or two of blooming, the fertilized flowers transform into seeds called samaras whose wide flattered shape helps disperse the seeds on drafts of wind.


Silver maple is used primarily as a decorative ornamental shade tree. Its popularity is due to the fact that it is very inexpensive and readily available from discount stores and other outlets. This rather short-lived tree should probably be avoided in many cases in favor of more durable species such as the sugar maple (A. saccharum).


Silver maple's subtle pale silver foliage and its wide adaptability make it useful as an ornamental over a very large area. One troublesome trait of this tree is that it has very brittle branches which are easily damaged by heavy snows, ice, and high winds. It may be best to plant this tree in protected sites to minimize potential damage.

Brittle branches make it sensitive to exposed sites. Shallow roots make it difficult to grow grass beneath this tree and difficult to mow what little does survive.

Jack Scheper 10/30/98; updated Steve Christman 11/27/99, 2/9/04, 8/20/08, 4/14/12, 4/13/16

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Acer species profiled on Floridata:

Acer buergerianum

( trident maple,three-toothed maple )

Acer campestre

( hedge maple,field maple )

Acer ginnala

( Amur maple )

Acer griseum

( paperbark maple )

Acer negundo

( boxelder, ash-leaf maple, Manitoba maple )

Acer palmatum

( Japanese maple )

Acer platanoides

( Norway maple )

Acer rubrum

( red maple, swamp maple, Carolina red maple )

Acer saccharinum

( silver maple, soft maple, white maple, river maple )

Acer saccharum

( sugar maple, rock maple, hard maple )

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