Nature's Restaurant:

Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Season: Spring

Urban, Rural or Both: Both

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum). Known also as Creek Maple, Silverleaf Maple, Soft Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, and White Maple. When the keys start falling, it can be like a rainstorm of keys. Take a key, peel off the brown skin and inside you will find a pea green colored seed. This seed is edible, and to me, quite good. At first I found them a bit dry, but now I wait for that time of year when I can start eating them again. Fresh, right after they fall is the way I eat them, but you can gather and peel a lot, boil in water quickly or steam lightly, and serve like peas with some lemon and salt. You can use the Red Maple Keys as well, but I don't like them as much. Don't use keys from the other Maples as they are bitter.


Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) range. Distribution map courtesy of the USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, originally from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr..

silver maple leaves front

Silver Maple leaves. You don't have to pick the keys off the tree, when they start coming down in spring, pick them off the ground. There can be storms of them falling, and it can be quite a sight on a day with a good breeze.

silver maple leaves back

The Silver Maple gets its name from the silver hue to the backs of the leaves. When it is windy and you see mainly the silver backs of the leaves, it can be an indication that rain is coming.

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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching

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