Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum   L.
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Section 6 » Order Sapindales » Family Aceraceae
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DistributionScattered over the mountains, and most of the northern parts of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. However, this species escapes readily from cultivation, and some to many of the county records certainly relate to non-natural populations. The native range is/was probably mostly along brownwater river floodplains with very rich sediment load, such as the French Broad, Dan, and Roanoke – mainly in the northern part of the state. The farther south in each province, the less likely the species is of native occurrence; absent from the southern Coastal Plain and apparently also the southeastern Piedmont.

This is a widespread species, mainly west of the Appalachians, where found in essentially every county west to the Great Plains. Ranges from southern Canada south to western FL and barely to TX, but much of the range east of, and in, the Appalachians is of uncertain provenance.
AbundanceUncommon and local in the mountains, western Piedmont, and northern half of the Piedmont, being quite rare in the eastern Piedmont. Fairly common to locally common along the upper Roanoke River in Halifax and Northampton counties, but very rare elsewhere in the northern half of the Coastal Plain. Seemingly not present in the southeastern Piedmont and southern Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a tree of very rich alluvial soil in our area, often on circumneutral soil. It is found primarily in the state in brownwater floodplains, and even there, it grows mostly on natural levees or river banks, often growing out over the river. Where away from such sites, they are likely escaped, and can be found along smaller creek and floodplains.
PhenologyBlooms from February to April, and fruits from April to July.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar tree, but to many people it is seen only in yards and along city streets, where obviously planted. It is a medium to rarely large deciduous tree, growing mainly to about 75’ tall. The opposite leaves have very deep sinuses, so that the usually five lobes are quite long and narrow, different in shape from our other maples. Also, the undersides are so pale that they appear white at a distance, easily noted in the slightest of breezes. No other characters are needed in the growing season.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) mentions that a hybrid with Red Maple (A. rubrum) has been collected at scattered sites in the Southeast.

Other Common Name(s)Creek Maple, Silverleaf Maple, Soft Maple, and several other hardly ever used names in the last few decades.
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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