Silver Maple

Acer saccharinum L.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Aceraceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois: native 

Natural Habit in Illinois:  low and bottomland woods; margins of ponds and lakes

Leaf:  The silver maple has opposite leaves on the stem, 3 to 7 inches long and 3 to 6 inches wide with five lobes.  The lobes are sharp pointed and deeply cut.  The leaves are bright green above and pale to silvery white beneath.  The leaf stems are long, slender, smooth and reddish.

Flower:  Late in the winter, many clusters of showy flower buds appear on the tree.

Fruit:  The fruit is a v-shaped samara (winged seed) 1 to 3 inches long on slender, flexible, threadlike stems about 1 inch long.  It ripens in the late spring.

Twig:  The twigs are smooth, shiny and reddish in color.

Bark:  On branches the bark is smooth and grayish with a tinge of pink.  On large branches and trunks it is dark gray, scaly and shaggy with many loose, scaly plates.  It is not deeply furrowed.

Size/Form/Shape:  It is a large tree, often attaining a height of 60 to 80feet and a diameter of 3 feet or more.  It can be planted on a variety of soils,and was planted extensively for windbreaks and woodlots by the early settlers.  When grown in the open, it forms a short trunk dividing into a number of largebranches.  When grown with other timber it forms a long, clear stem with athin crown.

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites:

The information below is from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  This information can be viewed in the original (source) form by visiting The National Arbor Day Foundation at

Sun Exposure:  This maple does well in Partial shade to full sun.
Soil Type:  The Silver Maple grows in wide range of soils; loamy sandy and wet. Prefers moist, slightly acid soil and is drought tolerant.
Moisture:  Wide range of moisture conditions. Can withstand some flooding and has moderate drought tolerance.
Growth Rate:  This tree grows at a fast growth rate.

Hardiness Zones:  3 - 9
This maple can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map.