Maple: Tar spots

categories: Maple Maple Diseases Ornamental trees Ornamentals

revision date: 2022-11-24 10:36

Discolored, yellowish to brown leaf tissue.
Maple tar spot
Photo by: R.S. Byther


Tar spots are caused by a fungal infection that commonly attacks bigleaf maples and occasionally other species. In late spring to early summer, leaves develop small areas that appear water-soaked. The areas develop small, raised, glossy black tar-like spots on the upper side of the leaf between veins. The spots may develop in circular patches and are surrounded by discolored, yellowish to brown leaf tissue. Severe infections may cause some leaf drop. When leaves turn color in the fall, infected areas may remain greenish, giving a characteristic “green island” effect. Although conspicuous, tar spot infections do relatively little harm to plants.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Rake and destroy fallen leaves.
  • Space plantings and prune to provide good air circulation.
  • Do not plant susceptible maples in moist, sheltered areas.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • None recommended

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