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© Reuven Martin

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collage of Sugar Maple and Black Maple

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) vs. Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Updated December 6th, 2019

Sugar maple and black maple are difficult to distinguish and were once considered varieties of the same species. They are also able to hybridize and form intergrades, so not all individuals will be able to be identified as one or the other. Many trees, however, can be definitively identified by characteristics of their leaves. Both species, as well as hybrids and intergrades of unknown origin, are used in landscaping, so escaped landscaping plants may have characteristics of either or both species. The bark of both species is variable and irregular but there are some patterns that can be a clue to aid ID.

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