Norway Maple Facts: Top 8

The Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is a large, deciduous tree that can grow quite tall and has been planted across North America as a landscape specimen.

However, it has also become an invasive species in some regions.

Below are some key facts about the biology, uses, and issues with Norway maples.

Norway Maple Facts

Key Takeaways

  • Native to Europe and Asia, Norway maple was introduced to North America as a landscape tree in the 18th century
  • It is a large, fast-growing maple that can reach up to 100 ft tall
  • Norway maple has invasive traits that allow it to outcompete native trees
  • It spreads aggressively due to prolific seed production and rapid growth
  • The shallow roots, leaf litter, and high shade tolerance inhibit growth of other plants
  • Management requires removing young trees and applying herbicide to cut stumps
  • Native maple alternatives like sugar, red, and bigtooth maple are better ecologically responsible choices

1. Native Range

The natural range of the Norway maple extends from central and eastern Europe into western Asia.

Its native range spans from Spain in the west across to Russia in the east.

The northern edge of its native distribution includes southern Scandinavia while its southern range extends to northern Iran.

Overall, it is native to a broad swath of Europe and Asia.

2. Introduction to North America

The Norway maple was brought to North America as an ornamental shade tree in the mid-18th century.

The oldest documented specimen was planted at Woodlands mansion near Philadelphia in 1756.

Norway maples were touted as an attractive, quick-growing, hardy tree that could thrive in a variety of conditions.

They soon became popular to plant in yards, parks, and along streets across eastern North America.

3. Appearance and Size

The Norway maple is a large, deciduous tree.

Mature specimens can reach heights between 65-100 ft with trunk diameters up to 5 feet across. It develops a broad, rounded crown.

The bark is grey-brown in color and has shallow grooves rather than the shaggy bark some other maple species develop. The shoots are initially green but soon turn brown.

The Norway maple’s large size, widespreading crown, and brownish bark help distinguish it from the similar-looking sugar maple.

4. Fall Foliage

Another distinguishing feature of the Norway maple is its fall foliage.

While sugar maples turn brilliant orange and red in autumn, Norway maple leaves turn pale yellow.

So a predominance of yellows in the fall canopy indicates the presence of Norway maples.

5. Fast Growth

One of the desirable traits that led to its widespread planting is the Norway maple’s fast growth rate.

Under optimal conditions, it can grow over 3 feet per year when young.

The quick growth allows it to reach mature heights between 60-70 feet within just two to three decades.

This rapid growth helps the Norway maple outcompete native tree species.

6. Wood Uses

Norway maple wood is similar to sugar maple in terms of its density, strength, and shock resistance.

It can be used for making furniture, flooring, musical instruments, and turned pieces.

However, its wood is considered less valuable than sugar maple due to the lighter color and more diffuse porous structure.

The wood is sometimes sold mixed in with or as a substitute for hard maple lumber.

7. Cultivars

Dozens of Norway maple cultivars have been selected over the last few centuries for ornamental purposes.

They vary in terms of leaf shapes, fall colors, and overall tree forms. A very popular purple-leaved cultivar is ‘Crimson King’ Norway maple.

Its deep reddish-purple leaves contrast nicely with green-leaved trees.

However, even non-invasive cultivars can cross-pollinate with wild Norway maples and spread invasive traits.

8. Invasive Species Impacts

Although the Norway maple has many landscape merits, it has become a problematic invasive species in some areas, including eastern North America.

Its rapid growth and prolific seed production enable it to outcompete native tree species. The shallow roots create additional challenges for other plants.

Norway maple leaf litter and roots alter soil pH, nutrient levels, and beneficial fungal communities.

This can lead to lower biodiversity and poor forest regeneration.

Before You Go

If your looking to buy shrubs or trees online, I highly recommend Nature Hills. They always have sales and discounts on nursery stock, well worth your time checking them out.

You can find them here,

Also, I have other articles about Norway maple trees you can check out if your interested.

I’ll leave links to them below.

Pros and Cons of Planting Norway Maple Trees

Are There Different Types Of Norway Maples

What Are Norway Maple Look Alikes

Norway Maple Tree Diseases

Norway Maple Problems: Important Info Before Planting

Why is the Norway Maple Invasive

How the Norway Maple Got to America

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