Silver Maple will grow in areas which have standing water for several weeks at a time. These trees love water and roots proliferate once they find it – but they do not grow toward water. It grows best on acid soil (it tolerates unusually low soil pH) which remains moist, but adapts to very dry, alkaline soil with good growth. Foliage may turn yellow in alkaline soil requiring regular applications of manganese to keep foliage green. Leaves may scorch in areas with restricted soil space during dry spells in the summer but will tolerate drought if roots can grow unrestricted into a large soil volume. Despite problems this tree causes due to weak branches and messy habit, it grows fast and will continue to be planted. Trees can live 130 years or more in the forest. Try one of the improved cultivars.
Silver Maple can be a prolific seed producer giving rise to many volunteer trees. It often sends up sprouts from the trunk and branches producing an unkempt appearance. Branches often form poor attachments with trunk resulting in branch failure in old, mature specimens. Frequent pruning is required to develop a strong branch structure. Ice and snow loads can cause branch failure in young and old trees.
Like many other large trees, it will lift sidewalks if improperly located too close to sidewalks. There are too many other superior trees to warrant wide use of this species but it does have its place in tough sites away from buildings and people. It makes a great tree for stabilizing stream banks. This tree has little place on most residential lots due to its large size and messy habit. Trees compartmentalize decay well – better than red maples. Silver Maple is severely damaged in ice storms.
Wood weighs about 45 pounds per cubic foot. The wood is considered diffuse porous which means that there is little difference in size between the spring wood pores and the summer wood pores. Pollen on male trees can cause significant allergy problems for some people; females, such as ‘Northline’, generate no pollen.
Foliage summer nitrogen content on established trees in irrigated landscapes in California ranged from 2.0-3.4 percent.
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