Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Black Maple - Acer nigrum   Michaux fils
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Section 6 » Order Sapindales » Family Aceraceae
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AuthorMichaux fils
DistributionOnly in the Mountains, ranging south to Swain County. The NC NHP lists a record for Madison County, but there is apparently no specimen to document this county. Though there are a few specimens or other reports for the Piedmont, these are almost certainly escapes or misidentifications.

This is a Northern species, ranging from eastern Canada south through the Appalachians to southwestern NC, northern AL, and northern AR.
AbundanceVery rare to rare, and quite limited to high pH soil areas. The rarest maple, by far, in NC. The NC NHP considers it (as of late 2022) a Significantly Rare species; formerly, it was a Watch List species.
HabitatIn NC, it occurs only over high pH (circumneutral) soils, on river banks, rich bottomlands, and rich slopes such as Rich Cove Forests.
PhenologyFlowers in May and June, and fruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis poorly-known and easily overlooked species (in NC) is a medium tree reaching about 70-75 feet tall. It was formerly considered as a variety of Sugar Maple (A. saccharum), and sometimes still is by some; thus, take care in identifying this rare species in the state. Black Maple has leaves with generally triangular lobes, whereas Sugar Maple has strongly square lobes with somewhat parallel sides. Also, the lobes of Black Maple tend to droop downward (and thus the leaf is not in a single plane). Some leaves of Black Maple can look quite “fat”, almost rotund-looking. The leaves of Black Maple look quite similar to those of Chalk Maple (A. leucoderme), but their ranges do not overlap, and the latter is a scrawny tree with usually multiple trunks.
Taxonomic CommentsSome older references, such as RAB (1968), lumped the species with Sugar Maple, as A. saccharum ssp. nigrum. Nearly all recent references do consider Black Maple as a good species.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1S2
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken at Chittenango, NY in late 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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