Silver maple is a tall, fast-growing, native tree of eastern North America. It is usually found growing in open sunlight along creeks and waterways. This species has become over planted. Without proper and frequent pruning high winds and ice can cause limbs to break. Many authorities recommend against planting silver maple.
This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
- Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Maple)
- Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
- Planting site Restricted sites
- Tree or plant type Tree
- Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
- Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Mature height 50-70 feet
- Mature width 30-50 feet
- Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
- Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
- Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
- Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
- Shape or form Broad, Irregular, Upright
- Growth rate Fast
- Transplants well Yes
- Planting considerations Aggressive, Commonly planted, Highly susceptible to ice damage, Messy fruit/plant parts, Roots prone to invading sewer pipes, Weak wood and branch structure
- Wildlife Game birds, Small mammals, Songbirds
- Has cultivars Yes
Tree & Plant Care
Without proper and frequent pruning high winds and ice can cause limbs to break. Prune in summer.
Drought sensitive, provide supplemental water in dry periods.
Many authorities recommend against planting silver maple.
Disease, pests, and problems
May be weedy, spreading many seedlings in lawns and gardens. Weak wooded and is prone to storm damage.
Has a vigorous root system that can invade sewer pipes.
Verticillium wilt, anthracnose, tar spot, cottony maple scale, maple bladder gall.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native throughout most of the eastern United States. Typically found growing in wet bottomlands.
Bark color and texture
Young bark is smooth and gray and develops long wide strips that turn upward at the ends as tree age.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, opposite leaves are medium green about 3 to 6 inches long; 5 lobed, with silvery underside.
Green in summer; yellow-green in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), 2 inches long.