Sometimes called Whitebark Maple, this tree is often classified as a subspecies of the Sugar Maple. Usually, it is a large shrub or small tree, with yellow flowers and small fruits with wide-spreading wings. It is easily recognized by its smooth, chalky-white bark (its Latin name, leucoderme, means “white skin”). Bark becomes ridged and blackish at its base as it ages. Its dark green leaves transform into brilliant yellow, orange, and deep red hues in the autumn.
The chalk maple is restricted to small areas in the southeastern states, but most abundant in Georgia and Alabama. It lives in the understory in moist, rocky soils on river banks, ravines, woods, and cliffs. It is grown as a shade tree, as it is highly shade and drought tolerant.