silver maple

(Acer saccharinum)

Conservation Status
silver maple
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Silver maple is a fast-growing, moderately short-lived, deciduous, medium to large tree rising on a single trunk from shallow, fibrous roots. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 40 to 70 tall and up to 36 in diameter, though large individuals can reach over 90 in height. They typically live 100 to 130 years.

The crown is rounded. The trunk is straight and much branched. In the forest the trunk is straight and tall. In the open it is split near the ground into a few branches that ascend sharply.

The branches are opposite, short, sturdy, and ascending to spreading. Larger branches arch outward and droop downward, but ascend at the tip.

The bark on young trees is light gray and smooth. On mature trees the bark is dark reddish-brown and is separated into long vertical plates that are attached in the middle but loose at the top and bottom.

The twigs are thin, yellowish-gray to reddish-brown, smooth, hairless and shiny. They emit an disagreeable odor when bark is bruised or scraped. They appear in a V-shape on the branches. The younger twigs have obvious, small, lighter, pore-like openings (lenticels) that are not raised much above the bark surface. At the end of the twig is a brown, ¼ to long, sharply pointed terminal bud with tight scales. The leaf scars have three bundle scars. The sap is clear, not milky.

The buds are dark brown, egg-shaped to elliptic, ¼ long, and blunt at the tip. They are composed of 6 to 10 dark red overlapping scales. The terminal bud is red and relatively short.

The leaves are opposite, stalked, 4 to 6 long, and nearly as wide. There are no prominent stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. The blades are palmately lobed with 5 deep main lobes. The lobes taper to sharply-pointed tips and sometimes have smaller, secondary lobes. The leaves of silver maple are more deeply lobed than those of any other maple in Minnesota. The lateral lobes are cut ½ to of the way to the base. The space between the lobes (sinus) is angled or V-shaped. The two bottom lobes are much smaller than the two lateral lobes. The central lobe noticeably narrows, with concave sides, toward the base. The sinus at the base of the leaves is open and the two bottom lobes do not overlap. The upper surface is light green and hairless. The lower surface of mature leaves is silvery white and hairless, but green and sometimes hairy when young. The margins have a few coarse, sharp, irregular teeth. The sides and tip of the leaf do not droop. In the fall the leaves turn yellow. Fallen leaves break down quickly.

The inflorescence is a tassel-like cluster of 8 to 14 flowers at or near the tip of the branches.

Male and female flowers are borne on the same tree and but in separate clusters. They appear identical, having both stamens and pistils, but usually only one of the organs is functional. They are greenish-yellow and are on short stalks. They are produced in late February to early May, long before the leaves appear. This is the earliest maple to flower. The flowers are pollinated by wind and bees.

The fruit is a pair of dry seed cases with papery wings attached (double samara). The samaras (or keys) occur in clusters that droop downward from 1 to 3 long stalks. The stalks are longer than the wings. The seed cases are plump, attached the the stalk, and slightly connected to each other. The wings are typically 1¼ to 2½ long, ¼ to 7 16 wide, diverge at a 90° to 120° angle, and are somewhat curved inward. Usually only one seed case contains a single, viable seed, although sometimes both contain seeds, sometimes both are empty. The keys are hairless or sparsely hairy, green initially, turning yellowish green when the seeds are mature, then brown. They fall in the late spring before the leaves are fully mature. Paired keys mature and are shed individually.




40 to 70




The champion silver maple in Minnesota is on public property near Reno, in Houston County. In 2021 it was measured at 96 tall and 381.6 in circumference (121.5 in diameter), with a crown spread of 95.


Flower Color




Similar Species


Bottomland forests, river banks, stream banks, flood plains, and lake edges.




Late February to early May


Pests and Diseases


Maple twig borer moth (Proteoteras aesculana) larva often kill the twigs that they bore into. Their presence can be recognized by noting dead and drooping leaves at the end of a twig.

Maple velvet erineum gall mite (Aceria aceris) causes greenish or reddish patches (erinea) on the lower surface of silver maple leaves.

Speckled Tar Spot (Rhytisma punctatum) forms many medium-sized spots on maple leaves which, on close examination, are clusters of numerous very small spots.

Tar Spot (Rhytisma americanum) forms few large black spots on maple leaves.




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Sapindales (soapberries, cashews, mahoganies, and allies)  


Sapindaceae (soapberry)  
  Subfamily Hippocastanoideae  
  Tribe Acereae  


Acer (maples)  
  Section Rubra  



Acer dasycarpum

Acer saccharinum var. laciniatum

Acer saccharinum var. wieri

Argentacer saccharinum


Common Names


river maple

silver maple

soft maple

white maple













A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.



Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.



A dry fruit consisting of a seed attached to a papery wing; one seeded in Elms and Ashes, two-seeded in Maples.



A space, indentation, or cleft, usually on a leaf, between two lobes or teeth.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

Visitor Photos

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Bark on a towering silver maple in an old woods.

    silver maple      

Kirk Nelson


Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

    silver maple   silver maple  


    silver maple   silver maple  
    silver maple      


    silver maple   silver maple  



  Acer saccharinum
Blake C. Willson
  Acer saccharinum  

Silver Maple

  Silver Maple
  Silver Maple >  

Copyright DianesDigitals

  Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple
Virens (Latin for greening)
  Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple  

Aceraceae - Maple Family

A New York City street tree native to North America.




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  How to ID Acer saccharinum
Laura Deeter

Uploaded on Oct 23, 2008

Key identifying characteristics for Acer saccharinum

  Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)

Published on Sep 10, 2013

Silver Maple identification video (Acer saccharinum)

  ApisCity 16/03/2012 Klon srebrzysty (Acer saccharinum L.)
Marcin Szymański

Published on Mar 17, 2012

Klon na mojej ulicy. Kilkadziesiat metrow od pasieki.

  Acer saccharinum Wieri De Groene Heren
wander van laar

Published on Jun 2, 2013

No description available.




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  Kirk Nelson

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Silver Maple leaves in the Spring

silver maple  

Afton State Park

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Bur Oak WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Hastings SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Keller Regional Park

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Chaska Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Wilkie Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Moose Lake State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Rice Lake State Park

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Springbrook Nature Center

Sunfish Lake Park

Tamarack Nature Center

Thompson County Park

Townsend Woods SNA

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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