Acer saccharinum - Silver Maple
Family - Aceraceae
Size - Can grow 50 to 60 feet in height with a spread of about 2/3rds the height. Its shape is upright, with a rounded crown, spreading branches. Can be very fast growing, 3' or more per year is not uncommon.
Foliage - Green above, silvery beneath. Opposite, simple, 5 lobed with deeply cut sinuses. Approximately 4-6" across. Fall color is negligible on most trees. However, I have seen some Silver Maples that I was somewhat pleased with. In most cases it is a sickly greenish-yellow, I have seen some faint oranges and reds. It obviously is variable between seedlings.
Flower/Fruit/Seed - Seed is a samara, which can be quite large, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2" in length with the wings spreading apart at a broad angle. Trees seed prolifically and in the late spring will have little 'helicoptors' flying everywhere. I was fascinated as a child by what I would actually learn later in life is a pest.
Bark - Dark gray, slightly ridged and furrowed. Nothing exceptionally attractive.
Pests and Diseases - Let's start this conversation (and I'm subjective, but I'm writing this page) by saying that I consider this tree a pest in and of itself. Let's name em off: weak wooded and sharp crotch angles in its branches which equates not only to storm damage, but the tree always seems to be dropping something. It has a root system that is very aggressive and will get in to water lines, sewer lines (where it belongs) and will buckle sidewalks and driveways. Is susceptible to cottony Maple scale, leaf spots, powdery mildew and tar spot in my experience. However, the list of potential insect and disease problems is extensive. It seeds prolifically, no, let's say grossly, and the seedlings must have a survival and germination rate of 101%. They will come up everywhere, and create a weed problem in beds, (yes, I mean the ones inside your house) gutters, (I've seen them well over 3' tall) bumpers of autos, dog dishes, and just about any place which can hold water for a short time period. A coworker asked me if she could plant a tree in her yard which had come up in the gutter of her house. I knew what she was talking about immediately and asked her, "Do you really want something in your yard that will grow on its own in the gutter?" This tree becomes a liability as it gets older, don't be decieved by its 'youthful' good looks. Many new homeowners are done the disservice by a builder of having these things planted in their yard. They're cheap, easy to grow, they grow fast, and they can be bought in large sizes. The scary thing is this tree is not what I would consider the worst choice someone could make. There are several others which are considerably worse, such as Poplars or Siberian Elm.
Landscape Use - I refuse to be held liable for recommending this tree as an ornamental, so therefore I won't. As you may also notice there are no pictures. I will get some later as there are too many other good trees to shoot pictures of right now without wasting my film on this tree.
Performance - 0.5 Alright, this tree will get the award for the 1/2 rating. I had to debate between a 0 and 1 so I split the difference. It's not that the tree won't do well here, (it will do well,anywhere) it's just that its potential liability and problems, and lack of assets as a ornamental is appalling. I'm sure it has some use, maybe where there is low inundated ground, far from human or building exposure. Before I get massacred by a Silver Maple connoiseur, realize that I do understand there are cultivars. The species is a dog, for lack of a better term and I'm addressing the species. I just haven't been able to make myself plant a Silver Maple cultivar as much as I've looked at them. I'm sorry, but the parentage just scares me.