Acer saccharinum L.

Sapindaceae – Soapberry Family

Acer saccharinum

English: Silver maple

Natural History

Silver maple, named for the silvery appearance of the undersides of the leaves, has a wide natural range from the eastern plains through the Midwest and eastern United States and southern Canada. It naturally occurs on river floodplains and stream banks and grows best on well drained alluvial soils. Ecologically it provides habitat for a variety of native animal species and its buds and fruits provide an important food source for birds and small mammals.  

Human history and use

The silver maple is occasionally used as a timber species, particularly in the Midwest where it is sold as “soft maple” and is used for products such as furniture, boxes, and crates.  It was widely used in the horticultural trade although that use has been waning in recent years due to common breakage of limbs and a propensity for root sprouting. It has also been used in land restoration efforts, particularly throughout the Appalachian region. Traditionally the tree has been used make maple syrup although it is inferior to that of its close relative the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum). Silver maple bark has additionally been used medicinally for the treatment of menstruation issues, cramps, dysentery problems, a treatment for hives treatment, gonorrhea, cough treatments, and as a pain killer.


Burns, R. M., and B. H. Honkala, tech. coords. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC.

Moerman DE. 1998. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

Sullivan, J. 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: [2022, April 4].