Black Maple
Hard Maple
(Acer nigrum)

Bark | Twigs | Leaves | Fruit | Outstanding Features
Red Maple | Silver Maple | Black Maple | Box Elder | Sugar Maple

Black maple is very similar in all respects to sugar maple, and thus is often misidentified as sugar maple. The key differences separating these two species are black maple's wider and drooping leaves, longer leaf stalk (petiole), and waxy coating on twigs greater than two years old. Black maple, like sugar maple, is an important species for sawtimber, veneer, maple syrup, and fuel wood.

Bark - on young trees, dark gray in color, close, smooth, and firm, becoming furrowed into long irregular plates lifting along one edge.

Twigs - slender, shining, and warmly brown, the color of maple sugar. The current year’s twig is identical to sugar maple, but the older sections of twigs often have a waxy coating that may peel in strips from the twig.

Winter buds - conical, sharp-pointed, and brown in color, the terminal buds much larger than the lateral buds.


Leaves - simple, opposite, often 4 inches or more long and fully as wide, from 3 to 5 shallow lobes with wide-spaced coarse teeth, dark green in color above, paler below; the clefts are rounded at the base. Leaf edge is smooth between the points. The leaf stalk (petiole) is typically greater in length than the leaf blade.

Fruit - maple keys (samaras), in short clusters, ripening in September. Samaras are paired with the seeds joining each other in a straight line, but the wings are separated by about 60 degrees.

Outstanding features - rounded cleft between lobes of leaves; leaf blade broad and lateral lobes often droop; sharp-pointed, brown buds; brown twig with waxy coating on older sections of the twig.

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