Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum 'Green Column'

Common Name: black maple 
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in moist soils in full sun. Seems to have slightly better tolerance for heat and drought than sugar maple. Mature trees have some tolerance for drought.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acer saccharum commonly known as sugar maple is a deciduous, Missouri native tree which will typically grow 40' to 80' tall (sometimes to 100') with a dense, rounded crown. This tree is a main component of the Eastern U.S. hardwood forest and is one of the trees which is most responsible for giving New England its reputation for spectacular fall color. Medium green leaves (3-6" wide with 3-5 lobes) turn yellow-orange in autumn, sometimes with considerable color variations. Fruit is the familiar two-winged samara. Sugar maples are long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly (somewhat faster in the first 35 years). Native Americans taught the early colonists how to tap these trees to make maple syrup which has now become a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and Canada. Excellent shade tree. The sugar maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada.

Subsp. nigrum commonly called black maple is very similar in appearance to sugar maple. It is a large, deciduous tree with ascending branching, typically growing 60-75’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a dense rounded crown. Like sugar maple, black maple is indigenous to the northeast and upper midwest and southern Canada. It is native to Missouri where it typically occurs in rich woods, ravines, valleys, slopes and along streams, mostly in the northern and central parts of the state (Steyermark). In comparison to sugar maple, black maple generally has (a) darker bark, (b) darker leaves that are mostly 3-lobed, droopy at the edges, and hairy underneath, and (c) leafy stipules at the bases of many of the leaf petioles. Dark green leaves (to 6” wide) turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red in fall. Pale yellowish green flowers appear in clusters in spring. Flowers give way to clusters of paired samaras (to 1” long) that mature in late summer. Tree sap may be tapped for syrup that is equal in quality to than obtained from sugar maple.

Some authorities believe black maple should have separate species status and list it as Acer nigrum.

Genus name is the Latin name for a maple tree.

Specific epithet means sugary in reference to the sweet sap. Saccharum is the genus name for sugarcane.

‘Green Column’ was discovered by William R. Heard in Boone County, Iowa in 1959 as a natural seedling of unknown parentage. It was originally considered a cultivar of black maple (Acer nigrum). Black maple, however, is now considered to be a subspecies of Acer saccharum (subsp. nigrum). This is an upright, columnar tree with a straight central trunk and rounded crown that grows to 50-70’ tall with a spread of 20-30’. Greenish flowers bloom in early spring. Medium to dark green leaves (to 6” long) with 3-5 lobes turn attractive shades of yellow and orange in fall. Flowers give way to winged samaras (to 1” long). Mature bark is mottled gray, furrowed and warty. U. S. Plant Patent PP03,722 was issued on May 27, 1975.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to verticillium wilt, anthracnose, cankers, leaf spot and tar spot. Also susceptible to aphids, borers and scale.


Shade tree or street tree.

Good for narrow areas with limited space. Attractive specimen in the right location. May be grown as a screen.