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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple

The silver maple is a fairly common large shade tree in our county, especially in older areas of town. You might think it's our native maple due to the leaves but they are not really that close. As far as I can guess its common name comes from the silvery lower leaf surface.

This is a fast growing larger tree, maybe to 45-50 feet here but over 75' elsewhere. It has upright and spreading branches making it the ideal street tree shape except it has weak wood and likes to lift the sidewalks and streets. It likes wet soils, likes septic systems, and may be a tree to plant where nothing else will grow.

This species is native to the central states and has a native range that overlaps with A. rubrum which has resulted in many hybrids in commerce. (Hybrids are named A. x freemanii.)

This image is located in the PNW and shows the size as well as the nice yellow fall color.




These two trees are in front of Native Revival Nursery.



Leaves are opposite, 5 lobed, 3-6" with very deeply acuminate lobes. The center lobe is often strongly 3 lobed but all the lobes are toothed. Leaves medium green color and silverish beneath (waxy bloom). Maple people like to point out the angle formed by the lobes. Its called the sinus. The sinus is angled at about 45 degrees (see our native maple which have rounded sinuses in the image at the bottom.)



Flowers are produced very early in the season. They are orangish and can be pretty showy. Male and female flowers on same tree (monoecious).



Fruit is a winged pair of samaras, wings spreading to about 90 degrees. They dry a light brown color and generally are not of equal size.




Trunk is thick, smooth gray when young developing shallow fissures showing a light orangish color.





Misidentification:
Perhaps several other maples. The native big leaf maple has larger leaves but the lobes have less teeth on them and the silver maple has distinct white on the lower surface.



There are many hybrids with the red maples and many of the true hybrids look more silver than red and can be hard to identify, but the flowers of most hybrids and reds seems to be red while these tend to be more yellow red.

Locations:
Aptos
Mar Vista Ave in front of Native Revival Nursery. (Image of the deciduous trees above are in front of the nursery.

Capitola
220 Adrienne Ave is a very large one.

Soquel
At the Persimmon house, on the corner of Main St and Soquel Drive.

2800 Chanticleer across from Mission Tile

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