What Tree? Norway Maple

What Tree? Norway Maple

Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

This species was introduced to the UK in the 17th century and is native to eastern and central Europe and western Asia. Norway maple is commonly planted in urban areas, but can also be used in woodland and hedgerow planting mixes too.

The Latin phrase ‘acer’ is associated with ‘sharp’ objects and therefore may related to the pointed nature of many maple species. The word ‘platanoides´ means resembling that of the plane tree in association with the shape of the leaves, which are slightly like Planes.



This tree can grow to 25m in height and has a distinguishable broad and rounded canopy.


The timber is hard, with a white to pale red colour. The timber is commonly used for wood turning, musical instruments and furniture making.





There are several cultivars of this tree, with one of most striking and common ones being the ‘Crimson King’. As the name suggests, this is easily distinguishable by its deep purple-auburn leaves.







Appearance and Identification

The most distinguishing factor of the Norway maple is its leaves. These are palmate (hand-like) with pointed lobes. In spring and summer the leaves are a vibrant green, turning anywhere from yellow to red in autumn.

Female flowers form in dense yellow clusters in early Spring and develop into winged seeds known as samaras, which are dispersed by the wind.

In winter, as with most deciduous trees, the best forms of identification are the buds and bark. The buds are deep red and similar to those of other maple species with one terminal bud and smaller buds either side. The bark is smooth and grey in early maturity and when mature it often has fine ridges.



This species can be confused with sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), however the lobes of the Norway maple leaves have individual points and the leaf edges are smooth. Furthermore, the seeds have a more distinct angle between the wings. While the Norway maple is far more common than sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in the UK, these two species can be confused. The Norway maple exudes white sap at the leaf petiole (leaf stalk that attaches the leaf to branch) rather than clear sap.



Propagation and Control

This tree is tolerant of pollutants and a range of soil conditions, which has resulted in it being a popular choice for planting in urban areas.  It thrives in deep, free-draining soils of a rich nutrient status. However, it does not grow well on waterlogged sites or nutrient poor soils.

This species has a shallow rooting environment and can outcompete other low-lying vegetation for nutrients. Therefore, careful consideration is needed for new planting within any landscape schemes where nearby vegetation is a key aspect.

This species is susceptible to squirrel damage in the form of bark stripping. There are also a number of caterpillar species that feed on the leaves and the tree is also susceptible to Verticillium wilt. The latter of which can be spread in contaminated soil. The removal of the infected plant material and surrounding soil is recommended.

Interestingly this species has been noted as being an invasive tree in many parts of the USA. This is likely to its ability to survive in a number of different environmental conditions, few natural pests and diseases and prolific seed growth and distribution. Reports suggest that it where it has become present in naturalised forests, this tree has altered the community structure and thus impacted the overall habitat.

Source and Reference Materials

Information detailed in this post has been obtained from the author’s own knowledge and photographic library where possible. Additional source of information and photographs include:

More, D & White, J. (2013). Illustrated trees of Britain and Europe. Domino.

Van den Berk, B.V. (2004). Van den Berk on Trees. Van den Berk Nurseries