Silver Maple, a tree found throughout all of Ohio, is a common shade tree in urban areas and primarily a wet site tree in rural areas. Its leaves are the most deeply indented of any type of maple, and it is named for the fact that its leaf undersides are silvery, and in a breeze the bicolor effect of dark green and silver hues is displayed in its canopy.
Silver Maple is native to most of the eastern half of the United States, except for the Atlantic Coast and Florida. Specimens found in the open may easily grow to 80 feet tall by 60 feet wide, with a rapid growth rate that produces brittle wood prone to storm damage. Its branching is upright but irregular and sparse when young, becoming more dense and spreading with maturity. A distinctive trait of the lower branches is that they become very pendulous yet upswept at their tips. As a member of the Maple Family, it is related to all other species of Maple.
Planting Requirements - The adaptability of Silver Maple to a wide range of soils (organic, clay, sandy, or rocky) and moisture levels (wet, moist, or dry) accounts for its widespread planting in urban sites, although it strongly prefers wetland areas (swamps, river banks, flood plains) in nature. This site preference gives it the alternative common name of Water Maple. It grows in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 3 to 9.
Potential Problems - Although Silver Maple can be infected by several diseases (including leaf anthracnose, Verticillium wilt, and bleeding canker) and pests (including bladder-gall mite and cottony maple scale), it in general is a healthy tree that survives and thrives under almost all conditions, without any problems. However, surface roots (even at a young age in compacted or shallow soils), significant storm damage (throughout its life due to brittle wood), heavy seed litter (in some years, on some trees), and quickly reaching dimensions that are far beyond its intended size, are notable liabilities.