Black Tar Spot

(Rhytisma acerinum)

Conservation Status


No Image Available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Black Tar Spot is a parasitic fungus infecting several species of maple (Acer). In Minnesota it infects only Norway maple. It is often found in suburban locations, where its host is planted. It is somewhat tollerant of air pollution.

In the spring the infection appears as a yellow spot on the leaf. These turn first brownish-black with a yellow border, then, in late summer, black with a yellow border. The black spots resemble tar. The spots are solid, not a cluster of small spots. They may be up to 1½ in diameter but are usually much smaller.


Similar Species


Speckled Tar Spot (Rhytisma punctatum) causes dense clusters of very small black spots.

Tar Spot (Rhytisma americanum) infects red maple and silver maple.

Habitat and Hosts


Norway maple




Spring to fall


Distribution Map



4, 26, 29, 30, 77.

Until 1998 this species name included what is now recognized as Rhytisma americanum. Some or all of the records represented on the map at left may be Rhytisma americanum.




Uncommon in Minnesota because the host is uncommon

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Ascomycota (sac fungi)  
  Subphylum Pezizomycotina  
  Class Leotiomycetes  






Rhytisma (tar spot fungi)  

The life cycle of this and most other fungi is pleomorphic. It has both an asexual reproductive phase (anamorph) and a sexual reproductive phase (telemorph). Each phase is often morphologically distinct. In the past, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature allowed each phase to be assigned a different scientific name. It was incorrect to refer to the anamorph phase by the telemorph name, and vice versa. Some mycologists and molecular biologists consider this practice to be obsolete. Molecular phylogeny allows the accurate placement of a species in any part of their life cycle. On July 30, 2011, at the meeting of the XVIIIth International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia, that practice ended. Prior to that meeting, the early, anamorphic phase of this fungi had been named Melasmia acerina. Both phases are now named Rhytisma acerinum.




Melasmia acerina

Xyloma acerinum


Common Names


Black Tar Spot

European Tar Spot

Sycamore Tarspot








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Rhytisma acerinum - fungi kingdom
Nineli Lishina

Published on Jan 25, 2015

Rhytisma acerinum - fungi kingdom




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Other Videos
  Insights into Nature - Tar Spot Fungus on Sycamore
Roger Griffith

Published on Oct 27, 2014

The Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum) is a very common ascomycete fungus that typically grows on Celtic Maple / Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) leaves giving a prominent black spot or spots on the leaf lamina, upper and lower epidermal surfaces. It is reported to grow occasionally on Norway Maple (Acer platanus) leaves.




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