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Native black maple in VA??

Posted by hairmetal4ever Z7 MD (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 9:26

I was looking at the Virginia Big Tree list the other day, and noticed that two of their co-champion Acer nigrum were in Fairfax County, VA. This is along the Potomac Heritage Trail in what appears to be an isolated NATURAL stand of black maples, fifty to one hundred miles outside what the maps say their native range is!

Per most maps the native range doesn't touch VA at all & only touches extreme Western MD & one small dot to the east of that in MD.

However, this stand exists. Has anyone seen these trees?

I'm thinking of making the 35 mile trip down there to see them, and possibly collect some seeds if I can. I'll probably try to time it around peak fall color too.

What is interesting to me, besides the fact they seem to be natural & well outside the "official" native range is that they are growing on bottomland soil as far as I can tell, possibly even in the Potomac floodplain! Not where you expect a "hard" maple to be!

I'd love to try to grow one of these local provenance black maples. Hopefully it will be a good mast year & I can get some viable seed off the ground (as their canopies are almost certainly very high since it is a wooded area).

Which brings me to my second question:

Who has grown sugar/black maples from seed? Anyone got tips on stratification, best growing conditions, etc?

Would RootMaker pots be worthwhile?

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Maple - VA Big Tree website

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Native black maple in VA??

besides the fact they seem to be natural & well outside the "official" native range is that they are growing on bottomland soil as far as I can tell, possibly even in the Potomac floodplain! Not where you expect a "hard" maple to be!


exactly who is this 'official' who takes the time to draw up maps of of mother earths preferences????

when one relies on a government bureaucrat.. for anything... they soon find.. the bureaucrat.. has no real clue with reality ...

one might suggest that the 'official' range is perhaps.. COMPLETELY WRONG ... ????

where does one go from there???

now.. as for your excitement.. and new knowledge.. all the power to ya.. i hope you do burn the gas.. to go the 35 miles.. and get some pix while you are there.. to share with us .... i dont understand why you are hesitating about the decision at all ..... GO FOR IT ...


ps: i had the same thoughts in regard to your other post on those un-named.. OFFICIALS... changing zone maps .... if you take nothing else from these two post.... it should be.. to ALWAYS question the OFFICIAL ...

RE: Native black maple in VA??

Black maples extremely common in the forests around Morgantown, WV and I have seen them in the eastern panhandle. In fact, one "sugar maple"- complete with bronze labeling plaque- is actually a black maple on the WVU campus. Always be skeptical; but I would believe it.

RE: Native black maple in VA??

I want to see the trees, but even more so get some seed. The sugar maples in my neighborhood are LOADED with samaras this year, probably due to last year's drought.

I'd presume these black maples should have a decent production year too.

RE: Native black maple in VA??

I'm surprised arktrees hasn't chimed in.

RE: Native black maple in VA??

Hi HM,
Here's what the Flora of Virginia says about Black Maple distribution in that state Frequent in the Ridge & Valley province below 2,000 ft elevation. Often locally common in limestone or dolomite areas, rare elsewhere in the mountains & Piedmont
The Fairfax Co population must be one of those unusual relics that we sometimes find along major water courses.
Maryland's Champ Black Maple is in Allegany County, you might contact the people up there and find the location and collect seed. Do you know about the Maryland Native Plant Society? They are to meet in Frostburg Sept 21&22 for their annual meeting.
Sept 28 is the Parkfairfax Native Plant sale linked below. Even if they are not selling BM alot of knowledgeable and interesting folks there, mostly from Va who could steer you in the right direction.
Finally, pictured here is the 'Green Column' selection of Acer nigrum in the maple collection of the National Arboretum (not really columnar) perhaps it is making seed?
 photo 10-23-12031-1.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: Sept 28 Parkfairfax Native Plant Sale

RE: Native black maple in VA??

I'm surprised it's common in limestone areas (limestone is only very scattered in both VA & MD) since that indicates alkaline soil, and most maples prefer acidic soil - granted, the hard/sugar maples are less pH sensitive than Acer rubrums are.

RE: Native black maple in VA??

"...and most maples prefer acidic soil..."

Not these. I have some research plots in the Apps and have seen black maples in quite acidic soils (and sugar maples too). Back home in upstate NY, they grow on limestone. In the Adirondacks, sugar maple is quite content on sandy soils with high organic matter and low pH. By no means do they require it.

RE: Native black maple in VA??

  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 9:23

hair, the soils in ridge/valley areas w/limestone aren't really alkaline in general -- only right where the limestone outcrops are. Away from the outcrops are typical acid soils. So you can see VA junipers growing out of the outcrops (in fact, they're a sure sign of where the outcrops are), and right nearby are acid-loving oaks & pines.

And you are right, the southeastern "limit" of low-elevation "standard" sugar maple seems to be right where I'm at in Allegany Co. Perhaps black maple has a bit more heat tolerance than northern-based sugar maple...

RE: Native black maple in VA??

  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 11:12

And just to add, the sugar maples invading the forests around me are surprisingly tolerant of poor drainage/high water tables -- they've populated the floodplain just downstream of me (soggy most of the yr).

One on my lot that's alittle over 2' in diameter is directly against the bordering stream, tho the roots avidly avoid direct contact w/the water. In the below pic in 2004, it's the maple on the far right, behind. Both have grown considerably since then -- the one on the left is over 2.5' in dia:

RE: Native black maple in VA??

I've grown some of these from seed, and currently have two of them growing in my front yard, and at least one more in a more remote part of the premises that began life as part of my experiment.

All that I did was collect a couple dozen seeds that had fallen to the ground in late fall, and sow them in rows about 6" away from one another into a bedding spot in that I that I made in the yard. Nuthin' fancy really except to protect the bed from critters with hardware cloth. Then the following spring after they sprouted, I thined them out. The following fall, I either moved the best specimens to their permanent home, or into pots to be further tended and moved later.

These are quite easy to start from seed and work with later on when it's time to move them to a more permanent location.

Good Luck!

Brad N.IL/Z5

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