What Is the Difference Between a Silver Maple Tree & a Red Maple Tree?

The silver maple and red maple are hardy, deciduous trees that grow in a wide range of soil types in the Eastern U.S. and Southeast Canada. They can be distinguished by differences in their size, leaves, fruits, bark and fall color.

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Silver maples are usually taller than red maples.

Size

According to Maple-Trees.com, the silver maple is larger, growing to heights of 50 to 70 feet and widths of 40 to 60 feet. The red maple will reach heights of 40 to 60 feet and widths of 25 to 45 feet.

Leaves

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Red maple leaves usually have three main lobes.

The silver maple's leaves are wider than the red maple's (5 to 7 inches versus 2 to 6 inches) and have five lobes instead of three. The undersides of the silver maple's new leaves are silver-white in color, while the red maple's new leaves have a whitish undertone.

Fruits

Both trees produce V-shaped fruits, but the silver maple's are twice as long, reaching lengths of 2 inches, according to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. Red maple fruits are red, while silver maple fruits are green or brown.

Bark

Young red maples have light gray bark while young silver maples have silvery gray bark. The MMPA says the bark of older silver maples takes on a "shaggy" appearance.

Fall Foliage

AboutMapleTrees.com describes the fall color of the silver maple leaves as yellow-gold and the leaves of red maple as a "spectacular crimson orange."