Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; low wet woodlands, floodplains, riverbanks|
|Bloom season:||March - April|
|Plant height:||60 to 100 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Dense, round, reddish flower clusters, about ½ inch across, form on small lateral branchlets at the tips of the previous year's branches in late March to early April, before leaves emerge. Male and female flowers can be on separate trees or on separate branches on the same tree or occasionally within the same flower cluster. For both, clusters have 3 to 6 flowers with 5 obscure sepals and no petals. The males have long, erect stamens.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and opposite, the blade up to 6½ inches long and as wide but typically smaller, on a stalk half to as long as the blade. Leaves have 5 palmate lobes with deep sinuses between the upper three, the basal lobes reduced. The upper surface is dark green and smooth, the lower surface much paler with short fine hairs across the surface. Edges are coarsely toothed. Leaves turn yellow in fall.
One year old twigs are smooth, brown to reddish, especially right before spring bud break, turning silvery gray like the branches the second year. Older branches and the trunk develop coarse, scaly bark with age that can look quite shaggy and flake off. The trunk can grow to 5 feet in diameter at breast height (dbh).
Silver maple is a large canopy tree that occupies a variety of moist to wet woodland habitats, especially floodplains where it can tolerate extensive periods of flooding and siltation. It is a fast grower and, at one time, more used in urban landscapes where it is still common, though its huge size often dwarfs the landscape and its brittle wood is prone to storm damage. Its annual seed load produces a carpet of seedlings on the forest floor and can be a bane to gardeners in an urban setting. It fall color is a brief, washed out yellow and it is a ample producer of sap for maple syrup in the spring. The leaves of Silver Maple are the most deeply lobed of the Minnesota maples, along with the shaggy bark of mature trees makes it easily distinguishable from most other maples.
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- Silver Maple tree
- Silver Maple tree
- leaf fungus
- flower buds and twigs
- leaf buds and twig
- shaggy bark
- branches in winter
- fall color
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?