Very tall, reaching heights of between 40 and 100 feet when fully mature, silver maple trees (Acer saccharinum) enjoy moist, acidic soil. Sites alongside bodies of water such as ponds, lakes or river beds thus make for ideal growing conditions. Thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, silver maple trees can benefit from a ground cover, which helps to conserve moisture in the soil.
Japanese Shield Fern
A native woodland ground cover will thrive in the shady growing conditions of the silver maple’s canopy. The Japanese shield fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) thrives in USDA zones 4 through 8 and is repugnant to rabbits, giving it a leg up in being a long-living ground cover. The Japanese shield fern will reach up to 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall with an equal spread.
A ground cover that produces edible fruit does double duty, as it helps conserve soil moisture as well as providing a sweet harvest. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) produces bright red berries that can be eaten fresh. From June to July, this plant will produce white flowers, standing in sharp contrast to its dark, evergreen leaves. Wintergreen will grow to 3 to 6 inches high and up to 12 inches wide. It thrives in USDA zones 3 through 8.
Rabbits are not the only woodland creature that may find your silver maple ground cover a tempting treat. Deer are also common in wooded areas, and a yummy ground cover can be decimated by deer, reducing the likelihood that it helps to protect the soil around your silver maple. Wild ginger (Asarum shuttleworthii) produces flowers with a distinct fragrance between April and May. The foliage is silver-dotted and heart-shaped, making for a subtly eye-catching ground cover. It grows very slowly, but will reach 8 inches in height and up to 12 inches wide. It thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.
If your silver maple is in an easily accessible area that you do not mind tending to, brass buttons (Leptinella squalida “Platt’s Black”) requires mowing after it has blossomed for proper care. Thriving in USDA zones 4 through 10, brass buttons tolerates the hot summer months in some growing zones for silver maples. With fern-like foliage and butter-colored flowers that blossom in June and July, brass buttons will grow up to 12 inches wide and 3 inches tall.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Silver Maple
- United States Department of Agriculture: Silver Maple
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Dryopteris Erythrosora
- California Polytechnic University: Silver Maple
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Leptinella Squalida "Platt's Black"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Asarum Shuttleworthii
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gaultheria Procumbens
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images