Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Acer saccharinum


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1994. Acer saccharinum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ACESAH SYNONYMS : Acer sacchatum Mill. [46] A. dasycarpum Ehrh. [46] A. saccharinum var. laciniatum Pax [69] A. s. var. wieri Rehd. [69] Argentacer saccharinum (L.) Small [37] SCS PLANT CODE : ACSA2 COMMON NAMES : silver maple soft maple TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for silver maple is Acer saccharinum L. (Aceraceae) [10,34,37]. There are no currently accepted infrataxa. Hybrids (A. xfremanii Murr.) with red maple (A. rubrum) have been reported [37]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The range of silver maple extends from New Brunswick to west to northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota; south to southeastern South Dakota and eastern Oklahoma; east to northern Georgia; and north through western South Carolina and western North Carolina to Maine.  It is found in northwestern Florida on the Apalachicola and Choctawhatchee rivers but is not otherwise found on the Gulf or Atlantic Coastal Plain [37]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch STATES :      AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  IA  KS      KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  NE      NH  NJ  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  PA  RI  SC      SD  TN  VT  VA  WV  WI  NB  ON  PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :    14  Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K101  Elm - ash forest SAF COVER TYPES :     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     61  River birch - sycamore     62  Silver maple - American elm     63  Cottonwood     93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash     94  Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm     95  Black willow    108  Red maple    109  Hawthorn SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Silver maple is a dominant canopy species only in streamside communities and lake fringes, and occasionally in swamps, gullies, and small depressions of slow drainage [16].  The elm-ash-cottonwood type is defined as bottomland forest in which elms (Ulmus spp.), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), silver maple, or red maple comprise a plurality of the stocking [70]. Silver maple and/or American elm (Ulmus americana) are usually the dominant tree species in southern Wisconsin floodplain forests [66].  In Illinois, silver maple was the leading dominant on floodplain sites that were flooded at least 25 percent of the time.  With increased elevation other species increased, although silver maple continued to be dominant on sites that were flooded 3 to 5 percent of the time.  Silver maple, sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and green ash communities occurred at the lowest elevations; silver maple, sycamore, green ash, American elm, hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and other species were found at higher elevations [5].  In central New York, silver maple-green ash swamps are relatively low in species diversity and density [27].  Silver maple dominance decreases with decreasing latitude; it is relatively rare in many southern floodplain forests [12]. In the Central Forest Region (as defined by the Society of American Foresters [73]), understory associates of silver maple include willows (Salix spp.), redberry elder (Sambucus pubens), red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), and greenbriers (Smilax spp.).  In the Northern Forest Region associates include swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), sycamore, pin oak (Quercus palustrus), black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and eastern cottonwood.  In New England and eastern Canada, associates include sweet birch (Betula lenta), paper birch (B.  papyrifera), and gray birch (B. populifolia).  In New York, associates include white ash (Fraxinus americana), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), rock elm (U. thomassii), yellow birch (B. allegheniensis), black tupelo, sycamore, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), and swamp white oak [16]. In the elm-ash-cottonwood type, other associates include black willow (Salix niger), boxelder (Acer negundo), and sycamore [70]. Silver maple is listed as a dominant or codominant species in the following publications: 1) Composition and environment of floodplain forests of northern        Missouri [12] 2) Wetland forests of Tompkins County, New York [26] 3) Community analysis of the forest vegetation in the lower Platte        River Valley, eastern Nebraska [53] 4) A classification of mature forests on Long Island, New York [75] 5) Ecological communities of New York State [76] 6) The natural forests of Maryland: an explanation of the vegetation map        of Maryland [77]


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Silver maple wood is moderately hard, brittle, and close-grained. It is not as heavy or hard as that of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) [50,74]. Silver maple wood is used for furniture, boxes, crates, food containers, paneling, and core stock [10,40].  Silver maple is cut and sold with red maple as 'soft maple' lumber [16].  It is a valued timber species in the Midwest, and may prove to be equally valuable in the Northeast [43]. On good sites silver maple can be managed for timber.  On poor sites, it can be managed for cordwood [43].  It has potential for short-rotation intensive cropping sytems for woody fuel biomass plantations [59].  Biomass yields at various spacings have been reported [18]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Silver maple produces abundant annual seed crops; the seeds are eaten by many birds, including evening grosbeaks, finches, wild turkeys and other game birds [1,28], and small mammals, especially squirrels and chipmunks [16,28].  Silver maple seeds were the most important food in the diet of breeding wood ducks in southeastern Missouri [13].  The early buds of silver maple are an important food for squirrels when cached food is depleted.  Silver maple bark ranks high as a food source for beavers in southeastern Ohio [16].  White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the foliage [28]. In New Brunswick, wood ducks and goldeneyes frequently nest in silver maples.  The soft wood of silver maple has a tendency to develop cavities which are used by cavity-nesting birds and mammals, and which otherwise provide shelter for a number of species including raccoons, opossums, squirrels, owls, and woodpeckers [28].  Silver maple was one of a few species of deciduous trees used as communal roosts by red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, starlings, and brown-headed cowbirds in Ohio [41]. Silver maple groves and the riparian communities in which silver maple occurs are excellent habitat for wildlife [43,55].  Silver maple is a dominant member of riparian communities in Indiana that are important to the endangered Indiana bat.  However, it was not listed as a species in which maternity colonies were observed [8].  Silver maple is often a dominant member of seasonally flooded flats, which are important to tree- and shrub-nesting species, colony-nesting waterbirds, and passerines.  It also occurs in wooded swamps and other riparian communities which are valuable breeding habitat for wood ducks, black ducks, herons, egrets, warblers, flycatchers, woodpeckers, thrushes, nuthatches, vireos, rose-breasted grosbeaks, hawks, owls, grackles, and many passerines [35]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : In the Appalachian Mountains, succession on strip-mined lands can include silver maple if a seed source is present [56].  Silver maple was planted on surface-mined lands in Indiana between 1928 and 1975, and was listed sixth (in order of number planted) out of 26 hardwood species that were used for surface mine afforestation [9]. Silver maple is suitable for bottomland reforestation in the lower Mississippi River Valley [1]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Silver maple has been planted as an ornamental, but the limbs are easily broken in ice and snow storms [10].  Its use as an ornamental has declined due to frequent breakage, tendency to rot, and prolific sprouting.  The shallow roots invade water systems, the seeds are a nuisance, and it sheds a lot of twigs [71]. Silver maple sap can be used to make maple syrup [16]. Silver maple stands are considered as having lower aesthetic value than other bottomland hardwood types, and are therefore less valuable for recreation [43]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Young stems of silver maple can be maintained as low, dense cover for wildlife by frequent patch cutting [43]. Where eastern cottonwood is the desired tree species, removal of competing silver maple stems is necessary to prevent silver maple dominance [43].  Silver maple is intermediate to resistant to 2,4-D, and susceptible to intermediate in resistance to 2,4,5-T [48].  There was no sprouting from silver maple stumps with direct application of undiluted triclopyr ester.  Other application methods were also effective [42]. Silver maple can be managed on good sites for sawtimber, and on poor or wet sites for pulp or cordwood.  Rapid growth occurs in both pure and mixed stands [16].  In the northeastern and north-central United States, selective cuts and shelterwood cuts are silvical options for silver maple [55].  However, silver maple trees will sprout along the bole where they are exposed to sunlight, reducing the amount of clear new wood that can be formed.  It is recommended that silver maple be left in clumps where possible during selective harvest, or that openings not be so large as to allow full sunlight to fall on the trunks of remaining silver maple stems [42].  Clearcutting followed by pre-commercial treatments to remove undesirable stems is recommended [45]. Clearcutting or group selection/uneven-aged management can result in good regeneration if seed sources are present.  Relatively large open areas are required for good seedling establishment [43].  In regenerating stands, cull trees need to be removed.  Girdled silver maple stems sprout vigorously; herbicide treatment is necessary to completely remove a cull silver maple from the stand [42].  Direct seeding has not been tested for silver maple [1]. The riparian areas in which silver maple occurs are of prime value for wildlife.  No tree harvesting should occur within 50 feet (15 m) of streams [44]. Silver maple has potential as a nurse tree for interplanting with black walnut (Juglans nigra) in Ontario.  Such interplantings showed the best 5-year growth compared with black walnut alone, black walnut and white ash, or black walnut and autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) [64]. Silver maple is subject to damage by winds, ice, wood rot and insects [14,40].  Relatively soft wood renders it susceptible to a number of wood rotting fungi.  The moist conditions in which it grows encourage a number of leaf molds and wilts to which silver maple is also susceptible [16].  Silver maple seedlings are susceptible to rodent damage, especially in heavy grass or weed cover [47].  Silver maple seedlings exposed to 0.1 ppm ozone under laboratory conditions experienced a reduction in leaf area and in total new dry weight after 40 days [31]. Silver maple foliage is fed upon by later stage gypsy moth larvae only when preferred foliage is not available [21].


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Silver maple is a native, deciduous, medium-sized tree.  Mature height ranges from 90 to 120 feet (27-36 m).  Silver maple is characterized as a fast growing species [16].  The trunk is often separated into several upright branches near the ground [50].  The crown is usually open and rounded [20].  The bark of young stems is smooth; it becomes darker and furrowed to flaky on older stems [10].  The root system is shallow and fibrous [16].  The deepest roots of 35-year-old silver maples planted on clay soil in North Dakota were 55 inches (139.7 cm).  The longest roots extended horizontally 49 feet (14.9 m) [68].  The fruit is a winged samara, 1.4 to 1.9 inch (3.5-5 cm) long and up to 0.48 inch (12 mm) wide [10]. Silver maples can live to 130 years or longer [16].  The national champion silver maple (1972) was found in Michigan.  It was 125 feet (38.1 m) tall, 22.58 feet (82.6 m) in circumference, and had a crown spread of 111 feet (33.8 m) [20]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : The minimum seed bearing age for silver maple is 11 years.  Large seed crops are produced annually [46].  The fruits are primarily wind dispersed, with a minor amount of water dispersal [16].  Release of fruits is dependent on relatively high wind speeds, ensuring long distance dispersal [23].  The seeds germinate immediately upon dispersal [10].  Natural regeneration is most successful on moist mineral soil with considerable organic matter [16].  Silver maple seed also germinates well on moist litter.  Seedling establishment requires full sun, but subsequent growth is best with partial shade [44].  Seedlings are often stunted in saturated soils, but can recover when soil moisture drops [16].  In Wisconsin, silver maple seedlings were found with higher frequency in the spring than in the fall [36]. Silver maple can be propagated from cuttings and bud grafts, and by layering.  It sprouts prolifically from the stump or root crown.  The best sprouting occurs from stumps less than 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter.  Larger trees tend to lose the ability to sprout [16,74]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Silver maple is typical of wet bottomlands, riverbanks, and lake edges. It is less common on upland sites [10].  In Illinois, silver maple was reported only from bottonland wet-mesic sites; it did not occur on drier sites of even slightly higher elevation [60].  In New York, silver maple occurs on limestone, outwash, and alluvial soils [34].  Best growth is on moist, well-drained, fine-textured alluvial soil [16,40,44].  Silver maple is found from 100 feet (30.5 m) to 1,600 feet (488 m) elevation in the Adirondacks [34], and is uncommon above 1,980 feet (600 m) elevation in the Appalachians [14].  In drier areas silver maple is only found along streams [10]. Silver maple is usually found on soils with pH above 4.0, but has been reported from muck and shallow peat soils with a pH from 2.0 to 3.3 [16].  Recommended soil pH range is 4.5 to 7.0 [72].  Forest floor biomass under silver maple plantations had an average pH of 3.7 after 27 years of growth; the underlying mineral soils averaged pH 6.3.  The effect appeared to be due to a decrease in buffering capacity [15]. Silver maple is intermediate in tolerance to water-saturated soils, but can tolerate prolonged periods of inundation [16].  It is a member of some greentree reservoir systems that are flooded during the dormant season to provide waterfowl habitat and drained before the onset of the growing season.  These sites usually have saturated soils most of the growing season [61].  Silver maple seedlings survived 60 days of continuously saturated soils [25], but seedlings of low vigor died after only 2 days of complete inundation [24].  In the upper Mississippi River valley, silver maple trees died after 2 years of constant inundation (due to reservoir formation) [22]. In the northeastern United States, silver maple is a dominant or codominant species on the following types of sites: 1) undifferentiated alluvial deposits of poorly drained silts high in organic matter and nitrogen, 2) undifferentiated alluvium composed of well-drained silts with a high base content and nearly neutral soils, and 3) rapidly aggrading alluvial areas and point bars composed of mixtures of sand and silt that are of intermediate fertility [43]. Silver maple was consistently dominant in a model of riparian forest stands under conditions of 4,000 growing degree days, even when other model parameters were varied.  This is consistent with the natural distribution of silver maple; it decreases in dominance with decreasing latitude and increasingly warmer conditions [38]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species The shade tolerance of silver maple is not well defined.  It ranges from moderately tolerant to very intolerant of shade, depending on site quality and location.  Silver maple tends to be more shade tolerant on good sites and less tolerant on poor sites [16]. Silver maple is a dominant species in elm-ash-cottonwood forest types which are pioneer to intermediate in succession.  These forests cannot be maintained without management or natural disturbance [44].  The silver maple-American elm type is usually a subclimax type, following willows and eastern cottonwood.  The type is described as climax for southern Ontario, where it regenerates in willow and red-osier dogwood thickets [73]. Silver maple is one of a number of species that follow eastern cottonwood to form a mixed hardwood bottomland community.  It is described as an early, fast-growing species [32].  In a northern Missouri floodplain community, in plots where silver maple was the most important overstory species, there were many large silver maples in the understory.  Silver maple will probably remain the canopy dominant for some time since there are also large old eastern cottonwoods present, which, when they die, will create openings large enough for silver maple seedling establishment.  Similarly, the presence of American elms will allow new silver maple establishment if they succumb to Dutch elm disease (as is likely) [12].  Numerous silver maple seedlings and saplings were present in a silver maple dominated forest on the Wabash River in Illinois and Indiana, which should ensure the continued dominance of silver maple on this site for some time [49]. Silver maple is typically found in riparian forests which are more or less frequently disturbed by floods [20].  It is also found both on sites that have been disturbed by stream channelization projects [29]. It forms stands at low elevations where new alluvium has been deposited and will colonize bottomland clearings and adjacent slopes [4,20]. Silver maple was present on 28-year-old and 40-year-old abandoned agricultural clearings in western Tennessee [57].  It invades sedge (Carex spp.)  meadows in northern Wisconsin [52] and southern Quebec [2].  Silver maple invades cutover areas when seed sources are present [40]. Silver maple was a member of a plant community that established on a small, frequently flooded island in Wisconsin.  On this island, silver maple was quite common and there was a relatively large number of silver maple seedlings.  Most of the large silver maple stems were of sprout origin, and overall mortality rate for silver maple was lower than that for most other species.  Apparently, flood damage breaks off aboveground portions of silver maple.  The remaining stems sprout vigorously and may therefore increase in number after such damage.  The largest stems of all species were found on the downstream end of the island, where they experienced less destructive disturbance [3]. A silver maple-green ash forest was reported to a National Park Service survey as old growth.  This forest covers 7.5 to 10 acres (3-4 ha) on Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington D.C.  Approximate tree ages range from 160 to 198 years [62]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Silver maple is one of the earliest flowering species within its range; flowering occurs over a short period from late February to April or May, depending on latitude [10,16].  All flowers on one individual are within a day or so of each other in development; the period of pollen receptivity lasts from a few days to a week [67].  The flowers often fall before the leaves are fully grown [19].  The seeds ripen and are released over a very short period, usually less than 2 weeks [23] from April to June.  Germination usually occurs shortly after dispersal [10].


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Silver maple is not well adapted to survive fire despite its ability to sprout after other disturbances.  Its relatively soft wood, thin bark and tendency to rot render it susceptible to fire-caused wounds [74]. Its shallow roots are probably easily damaged by fire.  It does not occur on sites that burn frequently.  In southern Quebec, a sedge meadow that was protected from fire was rapidly invaded by a number of woody species, including silver maple [2]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Silver maple is easily killed by fire [40]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : There are no published reports of silver maple surviving or sprouting after fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
NO ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed fire is not recommended for the riparian or bottomland forests in which silver maple occurs.  Silver maple is susceptible to fire damage; surface fires kill seedlings and saplings and wound larger trees which exacerbates the tendency of silver maple to rot.  Weeds and vines follow fires and create heavy competition for tree seedlings.  The destruction of organic layers by fire contributes to general site deterioration [44]. The 'higher heat value' of oven-dry silver maple wood averaged 8,360 BTU per pound [30].


SPECIES: Acer saccharinum
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