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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Acer saccharinum L.)

Silver maple

MAPLE FAMILY (Aceraceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A deciduous tree growing to a height of 12-18(37) m. The leaves are opposite and deeply 5-lobed with a narrow terminal leaf base. Leaves are green above and silvery white below with petioles that are usually green. The twigs and buds are reddish. The bark is gray and smooth in young trees, becoming flaky (peeling) with age. Fruit is a winged samara 3.5-5.5(6) cm. long, which falls in May and June. One of the first trees to flower; usually in February to March, although sometimes as late as April.

Similar to red maple (A. rubrum).

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Silver maple is one of the dominant trees in our floodplain forests, frequently associated with green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) and American elm (Ulmus americana). It is also found in hardwood swamps, especially in southeastern Wisconsin. Another common name is soft maple. It is frequently used for landscaping purposes as a shade tree.

SOURCE: Fernald (1970); Petrides (1972); and Voss (1985).

Previous Section -- VII. Floodplain Forests
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