Silver Maple Volunteer Tree - Maple Tree Identification - July 2023

Last year, I let this Maple tree volunteer seedling just go.  It grew up and up and I ended up protecting it via a chicken wire ring during the Winter.    It came back this year and has put on a ton of new growth on the leader.  SO....I figured it was time to try to figure out what variety of Maple/Acer I was dealing with in the garden. 

I went out and looked the foliage and then started to look around - and it was a quick Web stroll to figure out that I'm dealing with a Silver Maple.    Below are two photos of the top and bottom of the leaf - and there are two tells here.    At least...I'm about 75% confident that this is, indeed, a Silver Maple.

The Chicago Botanic Garden has this listing up for Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) that details those two tells that are visible in the photos above:
The silver maple is a North American native and best known for providing us with maple syrup. The leaves have the classic maple leaf shape and become brilliant yellow and red-orange in the fall. Its leaves are deeply lobed with silvery undersides, and its bark becomes shaggy and gray with age.
(emphasis, mine)

Deeply-lobed and silver undersides.  
Check.  And Check.

(If you are the skeptic at home, you're probably saying to yourself:  My specimen doesn't have as DEEPLY-lobed leaves as the ones on the Web, but the underside silver sure looks right. )

Now...if you spend any amount of time poking around on the Silver Maple, you'll see mixed feelings.  It is a fast-growing tree - which leads to some brittle branching.  And, it produces a huge amount of those 'helicopters' of pairs of Maple seeds that create litter in the landscape. 

Over on Arbor Day's site, James R. Fazio writes about the Silver Maple in their "Tree of the Week" feature and describes the paradox around the love/hate relationship of the Silver Maple.  He opens his piece with this lede featuring Donald Peattie (who...I now have to 'get to know'):
Silver maples, wrote naturalist Donald Peattie, “impart to every stream and bank where they grow, to every big red Hoosier barn and little white farmhouse, to all the village streets and the long straight roads where they have been planted, an air at once of dignity and lively grace, a combination rare in a tree as in a human.”

...Silver maples were a staple in many new towns and homesteads on the frontier. Their rapid growth provided quick shade — and they weren’t at all fussy about where they were planted. If there were heroes among trees, silver maples would certainly be candidates for a medal.

But times change. Silver maple has gotten into enough mischief that it is banned as a street tree in some communities. Its offense is that it grows so large, that if planted in a narrow tree lawn or too close to a building, it is inevitable that conflicts with concrete result. Its roots get into trouble too, where space is inadequate, and branches often break under the load of ice or snow. And to someone too old to delight in sticking jumbo seed pods on his nose, well, they are just plain litter.

Silver maple is truly a paradox, but under the right circumstances, its beauty, its spectacular growth rate, and its ability to tolerate poor growing conditions still make it a tree of choice.
Mixed feelings, right?  Paradox, indeed.

The University of Arkansas Extension office has a post about Silver Maples, too.  In that post, they warn about the impatience that leads people to 'plant a fast-growing tree'.    They have a place, but most trees should be planted with the notion that they will OUTLIVE the person who plants them.  The Silver Maple most certainly will NOT live for 80+ years.

As for the appropriateness to our area, the Morton Arboretum has this to say about the Silver Maple:
This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

So, native to our region.    That's...nice.  Right?

Now, on the current state of the tree and the growth rate.  Below is a photo showing this volunteer seedling in early June.  By early-June, the leader had put on 12" of new growth this season:

And about 30 days later, it has 'leaped' to add about 20+-inches of new growth on top.  So, call this more than 3' of new leader/apical meristem growth this season so far.   Fast growing, indeed.

Now...the value of the Silver Maple has been (see above) as a paradox.  But, there's another paradox I'm facing:  whether to count this as a 'tree planted' or not in my running list.  I didn't PLANT this, but I've let it grow.  So...I'm going to count it.  

2023 marks my seventh tree-planting season.

This is now the tenth tree planted (yes...calling this planted despite it being a volunteer) of the year and 87 overall.  

We (now) have 61 of 87 trees that we've planted.   70% success rate over seven years.  

87 trees planted/7 growing seasons = 12.42 trees on average planted each season
61 trees alive/7 growing seasons = 8.71 trees on average survive each season.

Here's the full accounting:

2017 (9 planted. 4 Dead. 5 of the original annual total alive now):
1. Flowering Pear in backyard on north side.
2. Flowering Pear in front yard by garage. (LOST and replaced)
3. Japanese flowering cherry
4 and 5: 2 Lindens that I espalier'd and placed by the south fence line near our kitchen windows.
6. A Dawn Redwood from Earth Day 2017 (LOST and replaced)
7. Nat's Saucer Magnolia in our front yard
8. A Corkscrew Willow all the way in the back (LOST)
9. A Crimson King Norway Maple near the trampoline

2018 (17 planted. 6 Dead):
10. Another flowering pear from Earth Day 2018
11. Red Maple Sun Valley tree from Earth Day 2018.
12. Weeping Cedar tree - our first evergreen.  (LOST)
13. The weeping flowering cherry tree that the Babe planted for Earth Day 2018.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams
22. A replacement Chanticleer Pear tree (3" caliper) out front by our garage
23. Our second evergreen - a short Fraser Fir Christmas Tree out by the trampoline. (LOST)
24. This Canadian Hemlock that is the first of nine that our landscape plan calls for in the backyard. (LOST)
25. Our replanted/replacement Dawn Redwood. Same spot as the first.
26. This teeny-tiny Bald Cypress that I planted in the front yard, in between our driveway and our neighbor to the north.

2019 (9 planted.  5 Dead):
27, 28, 29.  A set of three small Canadian Hemlock Trees in our far backyard. (Two Lost)
30, 31, 32.  This second set of three small Canadian Hemlocks along the north fence line. (One Lost)
33.  My new Weeping White Spruce that will only grow about 4' wide placed near the fence line alongside the espalier'd Lindens.
34.  A NEW Dwarf Alberta Spruce planted near the south fence line.  Our first "dwarf" tree.
35.  This new Hakuro Nishiki Willow (Dappled Willow) tree planted close to the flowering cherry on the southside.  LOST - October 2020.

37.  A very thin Lombardy Poplar tree - columnar form - in the way back wood chip area.  LOST - July 2020.
38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45.  These apple trees in a Belgian Fence espalier.
46.  A small Northern Red Oak tree - our first Oak tree planted.
47.  A 'decapitated' Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud that I planted on a whim.
48.  A replacement (from the nursery) Lavender Twist Redbud planted close to the brother.
49.  A tall(ish) London Plane tree that suffered some transplant and frost shock, but seemed to recover. 
50.  Our second contorted tree - this one inspired by Disneyland Paris: a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick tree.
51.  Our third contorted tree - but one that checks A LOT of boxes.  Deciduous conifer.  Weeping.  Contorted.  Japanese.  Planted behind the front Maple - the Horstmann's Recursive Weeping Contorted Larch.  LOST - Aug 2020.
52.  Via the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale - a columnar tree from Japan - the Red Fox Katsura Tree that I planted as an understory tree to the dying Chanticleer Pear Tree next to our driveway. 

2021 (16 planted and 13 alive):
53.  A tiny bareroot Shagbark Hickory from the Benet Academy Environmental Club planted in the backyard.   LOST - May 2023
54.  Our first Japanese Maple - a dwarf Tamukeyama Maple planted in the south backyard bed LOST - May 2023
55.  A large Weeping Nootka Falsecypress from Wannemaker's planted in the new bed on the northside. 
56.  A long-sought-after Emperor I Japanese Maple - our second Japanese Maple - that is now planted on the border near our new-to-be-created fire pit area in the backyard. 
59.  A dwarf Japanese White Pine - Pinus Parviflora Nana (or perhaps something else).  LOST 2022.
64.  A second, tiny Ginko tree - this was a replacement for #62 - planted 'ib2dw'.
65.  A small - and ALL Green - Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) planted in front of the back Yews.
66. 67. 68.  A trio of London Planetree 'Bloodgood' trees that are planted along the fence that I'm going to attempt to pleach.

2022 (9 planted and 7 alive):
69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. Six Green Giant Thujas trees planted as an upright evergreen layer in the backyard. Thuja standishii plicata. TWO LOST.  May 2023.
75. A small Saratoga Ginko tree planted in our front yard by the front walk.
76.  A London Planetree Exclamation planted in our parkway.  A bandit tree of sorts.

2024 (10 planted and 10 alive):
78.  Small, Columnar Scotch Pine from Home Depot in early Spring 2023. 
79 and 80.  Dwarf "witches broom" Ginkgo trees - Spring Grove - planted on either side of our back stoop.  
83.  A small, but upright red lace-leaf Japanese Maple - Unknown variety planted amongst the hostas on the north side understory bed.
85.  The second of three trees from Mr. Maple - another one-gallon Japanese Maple:  Acer palmatum 'First Ghost' back by the firepit.
87.  Silver Maple Volunteer Seedling in Kitchen Window Border, behind the Astilbes.  


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