Maple, Silver

Maple, SilverMaple, Silver — Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple; also occasionally Creek Maple, River Maple, Silverleaf Maple, Soft Maple, Water Maple, or White Maple) is a species of maple native to eastern North America in the eastern United States and adjacent parts of southeast Canada.

It is a relatively fast-growing deciduous tree, commonly reaching a height of 20-30 m, exceptionally 35 m. It is often found along waterways and in wetlands, leading to the colloquial name “Water Maple”. It is one of the most common trees in the United States. The Silver Maple is a highly adaptable tree, although it has higher sunlight requirements than other maples.

The leaves are palmate, 8-16 cm long and 6-12 cm broad, with deep angular notches between the five lobes. The 5-12 cm long, slender stalks of the leaves mean that even a light breeze can produce a striking effect as the silver undersides of the leaves are exposed.

The flowers are in small panicles, produced before the leaves in early spring, with the seeds maturing in early summer. The seeds are winged, in pairs, small (5-10 mm diameter), the wing about 3-5 cm long. Although the wings provide for some transport by air, the seeds are heavy and are also transported by water.

The Silver Maple has brittle wood, and is commonly damaged in storms, hence some people call the tree the “car crusher”, since particularly big storms, especially those with very strong gale/storm force winds, can bring down exceptionally large limbs that are highly capable of crushing vehicles parked under or near the tree. The roots are shallow and fibrous and easily invade septic fields and old drain pipes and can also crack sidewalks and foundations. It is a vigorous resprouter, and if not pruned, it will often grow with multiple trunks. It is, nonetheless, widely used as an ornamental tree because of its rapid growth and ease of propagation and transplanting. It is highly tolerant of urban conditions, which is why it is frequently planted next to streets. Although it naturally is found near water, it can grow on drier ground if planted there.

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