Acer saccharinum - L.
Common Name Silver Maple, River Maple, Soft Maple
Family Aceraceae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Banks of rivers, usually in sandy soils[43, 82]. Trees are occasionally found in deep often submerged swamps[82].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Bloom Color: Red. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Vase.

Acer saccharinum Silver Maple, River Maple, Soft Maple

Acer saccharinum Silver Maple, River Maple, Soft Maple
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Acer saccharinum is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Feb to March, and the seeds ripen from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

A. dasycarpum. A. eriocarpum.

Woodland Garden Canopy;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Inner bark;  Leaves;  Sap;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains sugar and can be used as a drink or be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water[4, 61, 82, 159]. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The yield is only half that of A. saccharum[2]. It is said to be sweeter and whiter than A. saccharum[183]. The sap can be harvested in the late winter, the flow is best on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates. Self-sown seedlings, gathered in early spring, are eaten fresh or dried for later use[177, 213]. Seeds - cooked. The wings are removed and the seeds boiled then eaten hot[213]. Good crops are produced nearly every year in the wild[229]. The seed is about 12mm long and is produced in small clusters[82]. Inner bark - cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[105, 161, 177, 257].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antispasmodic;  Astringent;  Ophthalmic;  Skin;  VD.

An infusion of the bark is used in the treatment of coughs, cramps and dysentery[257]. The infusion is also applied externally to old, stubborn running sores[257]. A compound infusion is used in the treatment of 'female complaints'[257]. The inner bark is boiled and used with water as a wash for sore eyes[257]. An infusion is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea[257]. An infusion of the root bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[257].


Other Uses
Dye;  Preservative;  Rust;  Shelterbelt;  Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them[18, 20]. A fairly wind-tolerant tree, it can be used in shelterbelt plantings[200]. The branches are rather brittle, however, and can break off even in minor storms[226]. The stems are used in making baskets[257]. The boiled inner bark yields a brown dye[106]. Mixed with lead sulphate this produces a blue/black dye which can also be used as an ink[106]. A black dye is obtained from the twigs and bark[257]. The bark can be boiled, along with hemlock (Tsuga spp]) and swamp oak bark (Quercus bicolor) to make a wash to remove rust from iron and steel, and to prevent further rusting[257]. Wood - rather brittle, close-grained, hard, strong, easily worked but not durable. It weighs 32lb per cubic metre. It has many uses such as veneer, cooperage, furniture, flooring and pulp[11, 46, 82, 227, 235].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Erosion control, Firewood, Aggressive surface roots possible, Woodland garden. Of easy cultivation, it prefers a good moist well-drained soil[1, 11] but does well in much wetter soils than most member of the genus. Succeeds in most soils including chalk[98]. Another report says that this species is liable to become chlorotic as a result of iron deficiency when it is grown on alkaline soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moderately sunny position[11, 200]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[200]. Fairly wind-tolerant[200]. The wood is brittle and branches are liable to break off the tree in high winds[11, 200]. Trees can tolerate short periods of flooding, but are very susceptible to fire[229]. A very ornamental[1] and fast growing tree[11, 98], but it is short-lived[227], seldom surviving longer than 125 - 140 years[229]. The tree has invasive roots and these often interfere with sewer pipes and drainage tiles around houses[226]. The silver maple is a bad companion plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants[18, 20]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Naturalizing.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the spring in a cold frame. It usually germinates immediately and by the end of summer has formed a small tree with several pairs of leaves[82]. Stored seed quickly loses its viability. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 - 4 months at 1 - 8°c. It can be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. Layering, which takes about 12 months, is successful with most species in this genus. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 - 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Acer acuminatum 10
Acer argutum 20
Acer caesium 01
Acer campestreField Maple, Hedge maple21
Acer carpinifoliumHornbeam Maple20
Acer circinatumVine Maple21
Acer crataegifoliumHawthorn-Leaved Maple00
Acer distylum 20
Acer ginnalaAmur Maple10
Acer glabrumRock Maple, Rocky Mountain maple, Douglas maple, Greene's maple, New Mexico maple, Torrey maple21
Acer interiusBox Elder20
Acer macrophyllumOregon Maple, Bigleaf maple, Oregon Maple31
Acer monoMaple21
Acer negundoBox Elder31
Acer oblongum 00
Acer palmatumJapanese Maple20
Acer pectinatumMaple00
Acer pensylvanicumMoosewood, Striped maple, Moosewood, Pennsylvania Maple01
Acer platanoidesNorway Maple, Harlequin Maple20
Acer pseudoplatanusSycamore, Great Maple, Scottish Maple, Planetree Maple21
Acer rubrumRed Maple, Drummond's maple, Swamp Maple31
Acer saccharumSugar Maple, Florida Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple42
Acer saccharum grandidentatumBig-Tooth Maple, Canyon Maple, Rocky Mountain Sugar Maple40
Acer saccharum nigrumBlack Maple41
Acer spicatumMountain Maple22
Acer sterculiaceum 00
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Acer truncatumShantung Maple, Purpleblow Maple10
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Readers comment
Michael Retardo   Wed Oct 20 22:47:56 2004
Very nice find. Had to do a project for Science class and info helped alot.
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Subject : Acer saccharinum  

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