Red, Silver, Freeman's Maples Acer rubrum, A. saccharinum, A. x freemanii
Family: Aceraceae (Maple)
Red and Silver Maples, though distinct in their typical forms,
represent the extreme ends of a whole range of varying intermediates.
In the summer, they are most easily separated by the extent of
the lobes in the leaves. Silver Maple leaves are very deeply cut
(as well as silvery underneath) and Red Maple leaves have very shallow
lobes. But these two Maples hybridize very readily in the wild,
with the cross often being called Freeman's Maple. In southern
Ontario these various crosses seem to be the most common variety.
In the winter, the differences are marginal. Some claim
that Silver Maple twigs have an "unpleasant odour" when broken, but I
have never personally noticed this (they all just smell like trees to
me!) Silver Maple tends to have shaggier bark as a mature tree as
well, though again, this is variable.
as a group, these two maples are easy to tell apart from the others.
They both have fairly red twigs (but not hairy like Mountain
Maple) and probably the best feature is their clumped flower buds,
which are usually visible from the ground even on large trees.
These buds resemble the other buds but are clumped together on
dwarf shoots and are very conspicuous. These two are also the
most water-loving of the maples (and are often found growing in near
swampy conditions). However, Silver Maple, is the one more typically associated with wetter areas
The leaf scars on the lateral buds do not meet.
The clustered flower buds stand out on these two species.
Even from the ground, the flower buds are sometimes very obvious.
When these maples are cut, they send up many shoots, giving them a shrub-like appearance.
Young bark beginning to split
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© 2008 Josh Sayers
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