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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Norway maple

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Norway maple (Acer platanoides)

Rebecca Koetter and Kathy Zuzek

Plant description

Mature height: 30 to 60'
Mature width: 15 to 60'
Growth rate: Medium
Plant form: Rounded
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: Continental Europe and western Asia
Native to Minnesota: No
Invasive in Minnesota: Yes

Culture

Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil texture: Sandy to clay soils
Soil pH: Prefers pH 5.5 to 6.5, adaptable to other
Soil moisture: Prefers moist, well-drained soils; adaptable to others
Hardiness zone: 4 to 7
Pests and stresses: Visit What's wrong with my plant? – Maple for a list of the most common maple pests and stresses in Minnesota.
Other: Susceptible to frost cracks and sunscald, especially when young. Susceptible to Japanese beetle feeding. Intolerant to 2-4,D herbicide. Tolerates air pollution (ozone, sulfur dioxide).

Norway maple in the landscape

Norway maple is a non-native tree that resembles Minnesota's native sugar maple. After its introduction into the United States in the 1700's, it became a popular shade and boulevard tree because of its attractive dense habit, an appealing array of leaf color and variegation, ease of transplanting, vigorous growth rate, its ability to grow over a wide range of soils, resistance to damage during wind and ice storms, and its tolerance to air pollution. Landscape liabilities include surface roots that interfere with mowing turf, rampant seed production and germination that create weed issues in gardens, and the invasiveness of Norway maples into native ecosystems in the eastern U.S.

In spring, clusters of chartreuse flowers appear before leaves emerge. These colorful flowers add bright color to spring landscapes. Five-lobed, 4-7 inch leaves grow opposite of each other along stems. Normal leaf color is dark green but cultivars have also been selected with maroon, purple, and variegated foliage. Leaf variegation is not a stable trait and tree canopies of variegated cultivars displaying both variegated and non-variegated leaves are often seen in landscapes. Fruit are winged nutlets called samaras that can be seen twirling to the ground in the breeze in September and October. When seeds land in garden beds or other open areas, they germinate readily the following spring and can become nuisance garden weeds. Any noticeable fall color on Norway maples will be yellow.

Norway maple is invasive in Minnesota and several other states in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest. When Norway maple establishes in native woodlands, it outcompetes and displaces native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous understory plants. It also reduces wildflower diversity. Once established, it creates dense shade that prevents regeneration of native species. Gardeners should consider planting alternative species that are native to Minnesota, especially if native woodlands are near a planting site. Native species that can be planted in landscapes in place of Norway maples include red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), basswood (Tilia americana), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra).

Cultivars have been selected for summer leaf color, fall color, and canopy size and form at maturity.

Royal Red version of the norway maple.

K. Zuzek, UMN Extension

'Royal Red' Norway maple

Norway maple tree with three different shades of green.

K. Zuzek, UMN Extension

'Drummondii' Norway maple reverting back to solid green leaf color

Norway maple in the fall with yellow leaves.

L. Mehrhoff, Univ. of CT, Bugwood.org

Fall color of Norway maple

Close up of a green summer Norway maple leaf.

P. Wray, ISU, Bugwood.org

Summer leaf

Norway maple leaves in the spring.

L. Mehrhoff, Univ. of CT, Bugwood.org

Spring flowers

Close up of the Norway Maple's samaras.

L. Mehrhoff, Univ. of CT, Bugwood.org

Samaras

Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:

  Cultivar traits:
Cultivar Leaf color Fall color Form Mature size
(h x w)
'Columnare' Dark green Yellow Columnar 50' x 20'
'Crimson King' Purple Insignificant Oval 35' x 35'
'Crimson Sentry' Purple Insignificant Columnar 35' x 25'
'Deborah' Red in spring, bronze green in summer Bronze, yellow Oval 60' x 60'
Emerald Lustre® Dark glossy green Yellow Round, oval 60' x 60'
Princeton Gold® Golden yellow Yellow Oval 45' x 40'
'Royal Red' Maroon, red, glossy Insignificant Oval 40' x 25'
'Variegatum' Green with white edge Yellow Rounded 60' x 50'

2016

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