Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
The Silver Maple has been a very popular shade tree for many decades. In some areas it has become too popular, making it vulnerable to insect and disease problems. It has been a favorite because it h as a wonderful vase shape for a large tree. It is a fast growing tree with its branches developing a sweeping pattern, with upturned ends giving this tree some of its own graceful character, especially as it gets older. It adds between 24 to 36 inches in height each year, or 25 to 35 feet over a 10 year period.
The Silver Maple has been used a lot because it is useful in wet areas where other trees suffer. It transplants easily and can grow where few others can. It should be saved for planting in wet areas or where nothing else will thrive. It can even grow in areas which have standing water for several weeks at a time. It grows best in acid soil which remains moist, but it also adapts to very dry, alkaline soil, it is very accomodating.
Silver Maples bloom very early in spring with red flower clusters announcing that winter is likely over and spring is upon us. The leaves are 3 to 6 inches long, opposite, deeply incised and whitened beneath, giving the tree a silvery appearance as the leaves flutter in the wind. Then in the fall you get clear yellow color that is stunning in some years.
The Silver Maples have a few disadvantages. It is not a good tree to plant close to the house because the weak wood is prone to breaking in high winds and the tree tends to drop a lot of messy debris. Also the roots often grow on the surface and are quite aggressive, growing into septic tank drain fields and into broken water and sewer pipes. These problems can be avoided of course by placing the tree in a spot where it can’t act up.
Silver Maple Choicles
Laciniatum has more deeply cut leaves that grow on drooping branches. Lutescens has yellow leaves in the fall. Pyramidale is narrow and pyramid-shaped with upright branches. Silver Queen is a fruitless form for those who wish to avoid seed litter. It has bright green leaves with lower leaf surfaces being silvery. Skinneri is somewhat weeping, pyramidal form, dissected leaves with a better branching habit.
Northline is a very hardy tree that grows more slowly than the species