Content Detail

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

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native throughout most of the eastern United States. Typically found growing in wet bottomlands. C-Value: 0

Bark color and texture: 

Young bark is smooth and gray and develops long, wide strips that turn upward at the ends as the tree age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, opposite leaves are medium green, about 3 to 6 inches long,  five-lobed, with silvery underside. Leaves are green in summer, turning yellow-green in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Small, greenish-yellow to red flowers do not have petals and are fairly inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), about 2 inches long.

Plant care:

Without proper and frequent pruning, high winds and ice can cause limbs to break. Prune in summer to avoid ‘bleeding’ when pruned during dormancy or in spring. Drought sensitive, so provide supplemental water in dry periods.

Silver maple may be weedy, spreading many seedlings in lawns and gardens. Weak-wooded and prone to storm damage. Has a vigorous root system that can invade sewer pipes. Many authorities recommend against planting silver maple.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Verticillium wiltanthracnose, tar spot, cottony maple scale, maple bladder gall can all be problems for silver maple.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift