1137 Acer platanoidesCommon Names: Norway maple Family: Aceraceae (maple Family)
Norway maple is a fast growing, wide-spreading deciduous tree with broad, lobed leaves. The leaves are 3-6 in (7.5-15 cm) long and about as wide, with five lobes, each ending in a pointed tip. In autumn they usually turn yellow, russet or reddish, but some years they may drop while still green. Norway maple often gets 80 ft (24 m) tall with a crown spread of 50 ft (15 m). As with all the maples, the hanging fruit is two samaras, joined together at the fat end, each containing a single seed. When ripe, they "helicopter to the ground, thus getting out from under the parent tree and (if all goes well) landing on bare mineral soil in a patch of sunlight.
There are dozens of selected cultivars in the trade. 'Crimson King' has purplish leaves; 'Drummondii', also called harlequin maple, has leaves strikingly adorned with wide, creamy white margins. Other cultivars have been selected for smaller mature size ('Red Pygmy' gets no more than 6 ft = 2 m tall), fast growth rate; golden, orange, red or purple autumn color; or narrow columnar habit. There are cultivars with speckled leaves; leaves that are irregular in shape; and leaves with three instead of five lobes.
Acer platanoides is native across northern Europe to Russia. It has become naturalized in parts of northeastern and northwestern North America.
CultureLight: Norway maple should be planted in full sun. Moisture: Water seedlings and young trees regularly. Once established, a Norway maple should do fine without supplemental watering in all but desert conditions. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 7. Propagation: The species can be grown from seeds, planted as soon as they fall from the tree. Cultivars are grafted or bud-grafted onto seedlings.
Norway maple is a handsome and hearty tree, often used as a street tree. It is tolerant of limey soils and of urban conditions. These are relatively large trees that are best in larger lawns and parks. The deciduous Norway maple has a dense crown and provides near total shade in summer, but allows the warming sun through in the winter. They are popular in northeastern US landscapes, and often planted to shade suburban homes.
There are more than 150 species of maples, and quite a few of them are cultivated. Floridata has profiled six species. There are native maples in North Africa, Europe, Asia, and North and Central America. Some are mere shrubs, some huge trees, some are evergreen, and the American sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is a valuable lumber tree, as well as the source of maple syrup.
Norway maple can be invasive in the northeastern US, spreading into adjacent woodlands, shading out understory species and out-competing native tree species. Its cultivation is prohibited in some states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and red maple (A. rubrum) are alternatives to Norway maple that are native to North America.
Steve Christman 4/24/11; updated 6/12/11, 4/7/12