What Do Black Spots On Maple Leaves Mean?

Maple leaves turn from green to yellow and then red in the fall, but what causes some of these red spots?

The “how to treat black spots on maple leaves” is a question that many people have been asking. The “black spots on maple leaves” are caused by the accumulation of dark pigments in the leaf cells. They can be treated with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or even baking soda and water.

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When fall arrives, maple trees produce some of the most vibrantly colored leaves on the planet. But what happens if this magnificent tree’s leaves get black spots? This article will explain what these unattractive patches are and how to get rid of them so that your maple trees may return to their lush natural state.

The unattractive black spots that form on maple leaves are not harmful to the tree’s health, but they do detract from the tree’s attractiveness and the beautiful colors it displays in the fall. There are, fortunately, techniques to cure and avoid black spots on maple leaves. 

Continue reading this post for useful information and recommendations on how to maintain the appearance of your maple trees looking great all year long by eliminating black spots on the leaves. 


Contents Table of Contents

  • Explained: Black Spots on Maple Leaves
  • When Your Maples Have Tar Spot Disease, How Can You Tell? 
  • Black Spots on Maple Tree Leaves: How to Avoid Them
  • More on Tar Spot Disease and Maple Trees
  • When dealing with tar spots, be realistic about your expectations.
  • There’s No Need to Be Concerned About Black Spots on Maple Leaves

Explained: Black Spots on Maple Leaves

As previously stated, the black spots that occur on maple tree leaves are not hazardous to the tree’s health. While they aren’t hazardous to the tree’s survival, they can make for an unsightly display of foliage. 

Black Spots on Maple Leaves: What Causes Them?

Rhytisma acerinum, the fungus that causes the black dots on maple leaves, is a fungal disease. Tar spot disease is a common name for this ailment. 

Fortunately, this fungus is only present throughout the winter months and will die away. However, if the land is not adequately cleansed, it will resurface in the spring. 

This fungus thrives in regions with little sunshine and plenty of moisture, as well as leaves and other ground covers. 


When fungal spores are released, they are carried to trees by the wind and water runoff, where they begin to develop and damage your lovely foliage. 

The next part will explain how to recognize tar spot disease in maple trees so that you know what to look for. 

When Your Maples Have Tar Spot Disease, How Can You Tell? 

If you don’t know what to look for, it might be difficult to detect the early stages of tar spot disease. When the Rhystima acerinum fungus infects a maple tree’s leaves, yellow-toned patches appear on the leaf’s surface. 

As the season develops until mid-late summer, the spots will begin to change into black tar-like patches. As a result, the sickness is known as tar spot disease. The tar-like areas are generally half an inch in diameter and have a stiff feel. 

The locations where the spots are placed on the underside of the damaged leaf have a cupped form, which you can see if you look closely. When the leaves fall off in the winter, the fungus is dormant until spring, when their spores are released and the development cycle starts all over again. 

So, how can you avoid tar spot disease on maple leaves, or at the very least drastically decrease it? 

Black Spots on Maple Tree Leaves: How to Avoid Them

The most efficient strategy to avoid this fungus is to sweep fallen leaves and debris from your property, particularly around tree bases where leaves fall the most. 

To guarantee that the spores are eliminated, you should burn the leaves and any infected trash at a minimum of 140°F. 

Rhystima acerinum grows in warm, wet settings formed by organic materials such as fallen leaves and other waste, much like any other fungus.  

Important tip: Many individuals compost their leaves in the mistaken belief that the fungus would die. If your compost pile does not produce enough heat to kill the spores, however, it will provide an excellent habitat for them to develop, and you will not have solved the issue. 

Keep leaves and other organic garbage from accumulating at the base of your trees and other portions of your yard as part of daily routine. Your maples and other sensitive trees will be less likely to get the deadly tar spot disease as a result of this. 

Fungicides may help speed up the eradication process.

Other measures might be done to hasten the removal of the Rhystima acerinum fungus from your home. Fungicides may be mixed and sprayed on the damaged trees and adjacent areas at most home improvement shops. 

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If you have a serious issue or are concerned about the appearance of your trees, another alternative is to hire a professional to spray your yard.  

Most people don’t go to this length since, although the spots are ugly, they aren’t damaging to the tree’s overall health. 

So, let’s talk about maple trees and tar spot disease in greater detail. 

More on Tar Spot Disease and Maple Trees

Did you know that maple trees come in over a hundred distinct varieties? There are far too many to identify in this post; nevertheless, we will include the maples and a few other tree species that are most typically afflicted by tar spot disease. 

The following trees are the most typically impacted by tar spot disease: 

  • maple (black)
  • Boxelder
  • Holly
  • Maple from Norway
  • Maple (Red)
  • Maple (silver)
  • maple sugar
  • Sycamore 
  • Tulip-tree
  • Willow

The next part will discuss having reasonable expectations when dealing with tar spot disease eradication and prevention in your trees. 

When dealing with tar spots, be realistic about your expectations.

If you reside in a heavily forested location, it’s critical that you have realistic expectations about how to treat and avoid this fungal illness. 

The treatment and/or clearing of the whole forest floor is not always practicable or viable. If the problem has spread to a huge number of trees, it may require a significant amount of work from a large number of individuals to bring it under control.  

If you want to get rid of this ugly condition, you’ll need to be patient. Clearing the area surrounding the trees most afflicted by the fungus will most likely require some time and more heavy equipment than a wheel barrel and a rake. 

The optimum time to begin is after the leaves have fallen for the season and before the snow begins to fall (if you live in that sort of climate). The more leaves and garbage you can clean and burn before spring, the better off you’ll be. 

There’s No Need to Be Concerned About Black Spots on Maple Leaves

Now that you know what causes black spots on maple leaves and how to avoid or at least mitigate the problem, you can help your trees regain their lovely foliage so you can enjoy the shade and vibrant colors they provide as the seasons change. 


Maple leaves turn black when they are exposed to the sun. The spots on the leaves are caused by a fungus that grows on the leaves. The spots are not harmful, but it is best to avoid touching them. Reference: black spots on maple leaves michigan.

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