Maple trees are some of the most popular landscape trees across the United States. This is because most of them put on bright colors in autumn, and they have attractive growth habits. If you’re thinking about planting them in your landscape, you may want to know how fast maple trees grow!
Generally speaking, most maple trees grow 10 to 12 inches in a year.
This growth rate is slow to medium for most trees, but some maple trees are exceptionally swift growers!
The boxelder maple, silver maple, and the big-leaf maple are all fast-growing trees that can shade your landscape in only a handful of years.
Whether you want a maple tree for bright, vibrant fall color or you need some shade in an otherwise shadeless yard, you can’t go wrong with a maple. Picking one out is the hard part since there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Come on down as we find out which are the fastest-growing maple trees.
So What Are Maple Trees, Anyway?
When we hear the word “Maple” we probably instantly conjure images of maple syrup, the Canadian flag, or maple candy. My favorite has to be maple cotton candy…Divine!
You’re not wrong, because the sugar maple is where we get that amazing pancake and waffle topper. You can actually make syrup from many other varieties of trees, have you ever heard of birch syrup or black walnut syrup? It’s out there, but we are talking about maple trees, not syrup.
Maple trees belong to the Acer genus, of which there are approximately 130 different species. Most of these trees come from Asia, but there are 12 maple trees that are native to North America.
There are three ways you can identify these trees for yourself. That seems a little easier and less monotonous than listing every single variety. You can look at the leaves, the bark, and the seeds they produce.
You Can Identify Maple Trees By Their Leaves
Most maple trees have similar-looking leaves, and distinguishing characteristics; remember that Canadian flag? The leaves on maple trees usually have palmate lobes, which means the leaf has distinctive, separate but connected sections.
Maple leaves vaguely resemble hands and can have 3, 5, or more lobes. The sugar maple, black, and red maple leaves have three lobes, while the silver maple and Japanese maple have five or more lobes.
Another characteristic of the leaves is the bright colors that show up in fall. Depending on the species, maple tree leaves can change from green to yellow, orange, red, and every shade in between.
The sugar maple leaves can gradually change through all the colors, while the red maple shows off brilliant red colors before they fall off.
Check The Bark Because Maple Trees Don’t Bite
Young maple trees have smooth grey or brown bark, but they may become rougher as they age. As maple trees reach maturity, the bark can split into narrow, shallow ridges. The new growth and smaller branches and twigs retain the smooth, sometimes shiny bark.
The ridges along the thickest part of the trunk don’t get too deep. Some oak and walnut trees can have deeply furrowed trunks, but maple trees don’t get so deep or thick.
Check Out Their Fun Fruits!
Yes, maple trees produce fruit, though don’t get your hopes up that you’ve been missing out on juicy maple-flavored apples, or berries. These fruits are seed pods that birds and squirrels tend to eat.
When you were a kid, did you ever play with the twirling seeds that fell from certain trees? You may have called them “helicopters,” “whirligigs,” or something similar. Those are the maple fruits I’m referring to, otherwise called samaras.
All maple trees flower and then produce these feathery-looking samaras. They often form in pairs, and when they fall to the ground they swirl like a helicopter blade. Check out our article on the types of maple trees that produce helicopter seeds for more info!
Some maple trees produce samaras in the fall, while others such as the silver and red maple produce them early in the growing season and drop them in springtime. Now that you can confidently identify maple trees, let’s see which ones grow the fastest.
Which Maple Trees Will Grow The Fastest In My Yard?
Some maple trees won’t grow to maturity for several decades. Maybe you don’t want to wait for retirement to enjoy the shade of a large maple. Maybe you plan on selling your house in a few years and want a few decent-sized trees in the yard.
Whatever the case, we have you covered. These are the fastest-growing maple trees you can plant in your yard. If you are interested in what else to plant with your maple tree, check out our article, 11 best plants to grow under a maple tree.
Fastest Growing Maple Trees Ranked: Complete Growth Chart
Fastest Growing Maple Trees
|ANNUAL GROWTH RATE
|4 to 6 feet
|100 to 125 years
|50 to 80’
|3 - 9
|3 to 5 feet
|Up to 300 years
|5 - 9
|3 to 4 feet
|60 to 75 years
|34 to 75’
|2 - 9
|2 to 3 feet
|60 to 200 years
|4 - 7
|2 to 3 feet
|50 to 70 years
|80 to 100’
|3 - 8
|2 to 3 feet
|20 to 50 years
|15 to 20’
|3 - 8
|2 to 3 feet
|300 to 400 years
|60 to 70’
|2 - 7
|1 to 3 feet
|60 to 90 years
|60 to 90’
|3 - 9
1. Silver Maple Is The Fast Growing Maple Champion
Under the perfect growing conditions, silver maples can grow up to 6 feet in a single season. Even bamboo stands up and salutes this growth rate.
The silver maple has narrow lobed leaves that have a silvery-white underside. When the wind blows this light color contrasts nicely with the bright green top. During fall, the leaves turn a bold yellow before they brown and fall to the ground.
The bark is grey and ridged on mature trunks but is smooth on younger trees. Often as the tree ages, the bark will peel off in short strips. It’s not as prominent as birch trees, but it will still flake off occasionally.
Lifespan And Growth Rate Of The Silver Maple
The silver maple can grow to heights of 80’ with a spread of 30 to 50 feet. They are long-lived trees that can grow for over 100 years. In about a decade, you’ll have a mature silver maple.
For a more in-depth look at how long it takes for your maple tree to reach maturity, check out our article on the full maple tree growth timeline.
These trees need plenty of sunlight to keep up with this extraordinary growth. They prefer soil that’s moist, rich, and slightly acidic, though it’s quite tolerant of most soil types.
They can deal with mild flooding but are only partially drought-tolerant. As they age, this tolerance increases, but early on they need a lot of water.
Where To Plant A Silver Maple
Because these trees grow so very fast, their wood tends to be soft and brittle. You don’t want a silver maple anywhere near your house, garage, or other structure. Nor would you want to plant it near sidewalks, or water lines.
The roots can be invasive and shallow so they will lift asphalt and concrete, and they will invade pipes that have the slightest leak.
Silver maples work great in wide open fields and large, expansive yards. You’ll need to keep them at least 50 feet away from your house to prevent any damage from falling limbs, especially during heavy thunderstorms or ice storms.
Here’s our detailed article on the best places to plant a sugar maple tree if you’d like more info!
States Where Silver Maple Trees Grow Best
These trees grow best from Maine to Minnesota, and from Michigan down to Mississippi. They are hardy down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees can withstand a variety of climates, though they don’t do so well in arid regions.
The dry, exceptionally hot summers can do a silver maple in. Silver maples tend to congregate along stream borders and near other small bodies of water. They need a lot of nutrients and water to keep them growing so fast.
Are you interested in growing a silver maple tree? Find yourself some saplings right here with the Hidden Creek Gardens Silver Maple Tree.
2. All About The Fast Growing Big Leaf Maple
The next fastest-growing maple tree is the big leaf. This tree isn’t as fast as the silver maple, but it still holds its own. When this tree gets the perfect growing conditions, it can grow up to 4 or 5 feet per year.
As the name implies, this maple has the largest leaves of the family. The leaves usually have 5 lobes and can reach up to 12 inches in width. In the fall these leaves turn gold, then yellow.
Against the typical evergreen backdrop, these trees are stunning during autumn. Like other maple trees, the bark on the bigleaf starts off grey and smooth, but over time it produces ridges and furrows.
How Big Does The Bigleaf Maple Tree Get?
These giants can often grow over 100 feet tall, but most times they top out at around 60 to 70 feet. They have a spread of 40 to 75 feet. In your landscape, these trees can produce a huge swath of shade.
The bigleaf maple tree is a very long-lived tree as well. They routinely grow to 100 years of age but can exceed 300. To put that into perspective, some of these trees were growing long before the Declaration of Independence was written!
All that height and width makes for a great shade tree! If you’re interested in six reasons maples make great shade trees, check out our article on the subject!
Can You Grow Bigleaf Maple Trees In Your Yard?
You’ll need plenty of space to grow these big trees. While they don’t typically grow higher than skyscrapers in the suburban setting, they are still large trees that need a lot of room to grow.
Being a fast-growing tree, it also isn’t advised to plant the bigleaf maple near any structures. Like the silver maple, limbs can break off suddenly and cause extensive damage to the home and garage.
Bigleaf maple trees are more tolerant of shade than silver maples, but since they grow so tall so fast, they will often outgrow most shade in a short time. They do well in shady, and sunny areas.
Soil is a bigger factor as they need well-drained soil and plenty of moisture. The bigleaf maple likes plenty of water, but they don’t like to have constantly wet roots.
These Are Pacific Coast Trees
You may find these trees growing naturally along the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California and up into Canada. They are hardy in USDA growing zones from 5 down to 9.
These trees are heavy drinkers. They don’t tolerate drought well, and if you live in an area that frequently sees extended dry spells, you’ll end up spending a lot of time keeping them moist.
Big Leaf Maples Are Quite Messy Trees!
When the bigleaf maple reaches maturity you’ll be doing a lot of cleanups unless you have it growing in a naturalized area. Just imagine thousands of leaves nearly a foot wide falling to the ground.
On the plus side, if you mulch the leaves, you’ll have an endless supply of potassium and calcium-rich mulch. In between the leaves, you’ll also have the samaras that fall. While these may be eaten by squirrels, birds, and other wildlife, you may have to contend with them if you keep a very tidy yard.
3. Introducing The Boxelder Maple!
Next up on our list is the boxelder. We’re still growing very fast, as the boxelder can grow up to 4 feet in a single year. This tree is much more drought-tolerant than our previous contenders.
Because of this characteristic along with the swift growing habit, these trees were often planted throughout the plains and prairies when the western U.S. was being settled.
You can identify these trees by their compound leaves. They don’t look like typical maple leaves, because they have 3 to 7 leaflets growing off a long stem. They still produce the twin samaras like all other maple trees.
Growth Habits Of The Boxelder Maple Tree
Typically these trees grow to a medium height of 60 to 70 feet and produce a canopy as wide as 25 to 30 feet. Though in shady areas these trees will extend branches at odd angles to soak up as much sunlight as they can capture.
Box elder maples can tolerate soil from sandy loam to heavy clay soil. They can stand some flooding and standing water, as well as moderate drought.
These trees can grow in zones 2 through 9 so they can withstand a wide array of temperatures, though they prefer cooler climates.
Where Boxelder Maples Grow In Your Landscape
These trees need plenty of sunlight. They can tolerate some partial shade, but they may take on some strange growth patterns to get more sunlight.
Again the boxelder is a soft wooded variety of maple that may break in strong winds, or through ice storms so be sure to plant it far away from any structures. The roots are also shallow, though in some soils it may produce a long taproot that helps to anchor it in the ground.
If you’re looking for a fast-growing tree that will help with soil erosion, this tree will help because of the fibrous roots.
It’s a relatively short-lived tree compared to other maple varieties. These trees will live for 60 to 75 years.
4. Now On To The Norway Maple
Norway maples are very fast-growing trees that can spread very easily as well. Because of this habit of cloning itself so easily, these trees are considered invasive in many areas. You may want to check your local area before planting the Norway maple in your area.
These trees were introduced in 1756 and were planted in many growing neighborhoods because they were attractive, quick-growing shade trees that did well in most conditions. The Norway soon spread its roots, branches, and more as they tried to take over.
They can grow 2 to 3 feet per year and reach heights of up to 100 feet. They have a wide, rounded canopy that can reach up to 40 feet from side to side.
Identifying The Norway Maple Tree
The leaves of the Norway maple look like typical maple leaves, but when they are broken off you’ll see a white, milky sap. While this usually signifies a toxic plant, the Norway maple sap can actually be used to make syrup.
It’s not commercially viable because much more sap is needed to make syrup, and it takes longer to process it.
The bark on these trees is dark grey to black and becomes furrowed as it ages. Young trees have smooth, dark grey bark.
Where Do Norway Maple Trees Come From?
This tree is native to England, but they were introduced to Philadelphia and spread from Canada to Minnesota, and down to the Carolinas and Tennessee. Pockets of them are found on the Western side of Canada, in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
As you can see they like higher elevations and cooler temperatures. They grow best in zones 4 through 7 and prefer soil that is well draining and rich, though they will tolerate most types between sand to clay.
They don’t mind shade or sun, they are drought tolerant, and can handle polluted city streets. Basically, you can grow a Norway maple nearly anywhere. This tolerance of all things is another reason they tend to be invasive.
Where Can You Plant Norway Maple Trees?
As you can see, this tree doesn’t care where it’s planted, it will grow with fervor, and often produce many more. If you do plant these trees, be sure to keep an eye on them as they seed and try to spread.
They do best on their own because when they are planted amongst other trees, they have a tendency to take over and crowd out the competition. Just make sure wherever you live, these trees aren’t listed as invasive.
Norway maples may be perfect for a yard with less than ideal soil. Luckily, we’ve got you covered when it comes to planting tips. Read our article on how to plant your maple tree in clay for step-by-step instructions on how to grow a thriving tree.
5. Feast Your Eyes On The Freeman Maple Tree
If you’re familiar with red maples you may love their brilliant red fall color. They are fairly fast-growing trees, but what if you could get a red maple that grows even faster? Enter the Freeman maple.
Freeman maple trees are a hybrid of silver maples and autumn blaze red maple. They produce gorgeous red fall foliage but grow faster than the medium growth rate reds. This maple tree also possessed the strong branches of the red maple so falling limbs are greatly reduced.
Identifying The Freeman Maple Tree
Take a silver maple leaf, put it next to a red maple leaf and you’ll instantly see a difference. Red maple leaves have 3 distinctive lobes, while silver maple leaves have at least 5 which are thinner but more “toothy.”
Now combine these leaves together and you get the Freeman maple leaf. They have 3 to 5 lobes, are thinner than the red maple, and are moderately toothed. They also have a lighter-colored underside similar to the silver maple.
The Freeman maple has a dark and smooth bark on younger trees that grows to a silvery grey with small fissures as it ages. In fall the leaves turn yellow to red-orange to bring on the exciting fall brightness that maple trees are known for.
From Illinois To Your Yard
These trees are native to Illinois—Chicago to be exact as this is where they were created. They will grow well in zones 3 through 8 and do well in city landscapes…they come from Chicago so they like the hustle and bustle.
These trees can be planted in moist well-drained soil, but they can tolerate clay, occasional drought, and occasional flooding. They need full sun to be the happiest, and when they get everything they need the Freeman maple can grow up to 3 feet per year.
Sizes may vary, but most Freeman maples grow up to 100 feet with a canopy width of 20 to 40 feet. They are relatively short-lived trees, only living between 50 to 70 years.
You can plant these trees closer to your house for cooling shade, but you may still want to maintain a 25 to 35 feet distance to allow for the root spread. One thing to watch out for on Freeman maple trees, is they have the silver maple’s roots.
The roots can raise patio pavers, sidewalks, and driveways if they are within the vicinity. They have shallow roots synonymous with silver maples, so keep that in mind when planting them.
There are plenty of red maple varieties. You can grow your own Tristar Plants Autumn Blaze Maple Tree, one of the most brilliantly red specimens around. They produce nearly year-round beauty.
6. All About That Amur Maple Tree
So far all the maple trees have been huge trees that need plenty of room to grow and should be placed far out to pasture. The amur maple changes that. It’s a smaller, more contained tree that grows quickly.
These trees originate from China and Japan but were introduced to North America in the 1800s. They can have single trunks or branch out into multiple offshoots. The leaves have three lobes with the middle being the longest.
In spring and summer, they are a nice emerald color, but in fall they can glow orange, red, or yellow depending on the variety.
Where Can Amur Maple Trees Grow?
Since they didn’t originate here, the amur maple has a tendency to be invasive in some areas, particularly the Northeast and Midwest of the U.S. This tree grows well in well-drained soil, but tolerates nearly all types of soil.
They can stand some dry periods as well as heavy wet periods. They can even take heavy pruning and come back bushier and healthier than ever. It’s a good thing they only grow to about 20 tall and wide.
The problem with amur maple trees is that they produce tons of seeds. One small tree can dump out around 5,000 seeds. While most of the time they don’t go far, occasionally the samaras can be caught just right by the wind or water and be carried across vast distances.
Planting Amur Maples In Your Yard
These trees can make stunning centerpieces in your garden. The fall color may be a needed touch when everything else is turning brown. They don’t get very tall and you can train them to be smaller, thin-shaped, or let them grow bushier.
In smaller yards, the amur maple can be a specimen tree or a small shade tree. You’ll only have to clean up the samaras when they are produced.
7. Sweet Sugar Maple Trees
The sugar maple is the tree that produces the scrumptious syrup. It’s nowhere near as fast-growing as the silver maple, but it still can put on 3 feet of growth per year.
These trees are the longest-living trees on our list as they may reach ripe ages of over 400 years. They don’t grow the tallest as they often max out at 60 to 70 feet, but they’ll be around for several generations.
Sugar Maple Tree Statistics
The sugar maple leaf is what you’ll see on the Canadian flag. These leaves usually have five wide lobes and grow to 3 to 5 inches from side to side.
Sugar maples need a hard freeze every winter to keep them healthy so they originated in Northeastern North America. In New England, down to the Appalachian mountains, and as far west as Missouri you may encounter this tree.
They grow well in zones 2 through 7. These trees have moderate drought resistance and prefer loamy, well-draining soils. Heavy clay and swampy soils are not places you find sugar maples.
You’ll need areas of full sun to grow sugar maples as well as plenty of space. You can plant these trees to produce a windbreak or grow a single one in a wide yard or field, but they will often be the biggest tree on your property.
Since they get so big these trees need plenty of sun. While they are young, the sugar maple can tolerate partial shade, but they’ll need more sun as they reach maturity.
If you’ve wanted your own Generic Sugar Maple Tree, you don’t have to look any further. These saplings start off small but they will grow tall pretty fast.
The best part about sugar maples has to be the maple syrup they are famous for! For more, check out our article on when sugar maples produce that iconic sweet sap and how to get it out!
8. Grow The Radiant Red Maple Tree
Red maple trees have several cultivars but they all produce stunning bright red canopies in the fall. The leaves on red maples are generally three-lobed and smaller than other popular maple trees.
Though native to Eastern forests the red maple is often found from Maine to Florida and as far west as Minnesota and Texas. These trees are also sold and planted in many neighborhoods and yards because of their beautiful color.
Red Maples Are Big Trees
Though relatively fast-growing, these trees only put on about a foot to 3 feet per year. Even at this rate, they can reach heights of 90 feet with canopies as wide as 40 feet. These are great shade trees that produce hard and dense wood.
Red maples don’t live as long as silver or sugar maples, but they may last more than one generation. Red maple trees live for 60 to 90 years on average.
Growing Red Maple Trees On Your Property
Red maple trees like moist loamy soils but they will tolerate most other types from sandy to clay. They have a slight drought tolerance but prefer areas with ample moisture.
The main trait red maple trees look for is plenty of sunlight. These trees require sunlight to grow healthy and to produce bright red colors in the fall. They also need plenty of space.
While they don’t have the tendency to break off large branches like silver or Norway maples, when they reach 40 or 50 feet in the air, pieces can break off.
If you need a windbreak or need some shade these trees are great. You’ll also have the beautiful crimson colors in the fall to add some beauty to the yard. Just don’t plant them within 40 to 50 feet of your house.
That’s A Wrap
There you have it, the fastest-growing maple trees you can plant in your yard. When looking for fast shade, or you need a tree that grows fast check out these maple trees. The silver maple, bigleaf, and box elder maple are the fastest growing, reaching up to 6 feet per year.
The Norway, Freeman, amur, sugar, and red maple trees have fast, vigorous growth as well, but they usually aren’t quite as brittle either. So, depending if you are looking for huge trees, smaller trees, windbreaks, or shade, maple trees have you covered if you want fast growth.
Peterson, David L., and F. A. Bazzaz. “Photosynthetic and growth responses of silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.) seedlings to flooding.” American Midland Naturalist (1984): 261-272.
Nowak, David J., and Rowan A. Rowntree. “History and range of Norway maple.” Journal of Arboriculture. 16 (11): 291-296. 16.11 (1990).
Horsley, Stephen B., et al. “Health of eastern North American sugar maple forests and factors affecting decline.” Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 19.1 (2002): 34-44.
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