Silver Maple, New Leaves (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Silver Maple, New Leaves (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

36 x 30 in | 91.4 x 76.2 cm

Silver Maples earn their name from the very pale green, silvery undersides of their leaves.   But when the leaves first emerge in early spring you don’t see much silvery green or any green for that matter.  Chlorophyll manufacture proceeds more slowly than other pigments.  For a short time in the spring, therefore, the orange and violet pigments in the new leave have a chance to show their colors.  The process works in reverse in the autumn when the chlorophyll fades quickly leaving the other colors behind.

The old Black Willows on the far side of the river had already sprouted with bright yellow leaves a week before I came upon this scene.  By the time I arrived their leaves were already flushed with bright green chlorophyll.

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Silver Maples are very popular as a street side tree because they grow rapidly and their deeply lobed leaves have a delicate, lacy appearance.  They also tend to grow many trunks at once, all of them stretching away from the center toward the light.  The result from an artistic point of view is a gorgeous bouquet of limbs and branches.  In this scene they formed a graceful frame through which to view the bend of the river.

If you are tempted to plant a Silver Maple in your front yard, I would recommend cutting all but one of the trunks, and pruning that one yearly to keep it compact.  The stretching out of these long limbs like a giant bouquet is beautiful but highly unstable.  A little ice or wind can send them flopping down on your car, house and electric wires.  The Silver Maple tree (Acer saccharinum) is native to eastern North America.  Its favorite site is on the banks of rivers, streams and lakeshores.

 

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