Norway maple

Common name: Norway maple
Scientific name: Acer platanoides L.
Synonyms: 'Crimson King', 'Columnare', 'Erectum', 'Olmsted', 'Drummondii', 'Emerald Queen', 'Globosum', 'Schewedleri', and 'Summershade', and any other cultivar capable of producing viable seed.

Legal status: Specially Regulated with the requirement that sellers affix a label that advises: "Norway maple should only be planted in areas where the seedlings will be controlled or eradicated by mowing or other means.  Norway maple seed is wind dispersed so trees should not be planted closer than 100 yards from natural areas."

Life cycle: Perennial
Related species: Sugar maple, red maple, silver maple, black maple, mountain maple; non-native ornamental maples
Habitat: Adaptable to many growing conditions. Grows in full sun or shade. Found naturalizing in forests, particularly within disturbed understory.
Impact: Environmental, very shade tolerant, forms dense canopy, reduces native plant diversity in understory.
Native range: Central and eastern Europe and western Asia
Means of spread: Plants reproduce by seed which can be spread by wind and water.


The first documented Norway maple introduction to North America was in 1756. It has naturalized in Great Britain, the northeastern United States, and southeastern Canada. Norway maple is widely planted as a shade tree in urban areas because it can tolerate drought, deicing salt, compacted soils, and air pollution. Norway maple has many cultivars with distinct forms including columnar, and weeping varieties.  Another distinct characteristic is the green to burgundy range in leaf color.


Norway maple is a large shade tree usually growing 40-60 feet tall but can grow up to 90 feet or more. Branching is opposite. Young bark is olive to light brown and becomes gray and furrowed with age. Naturalizing Norway maple could be confused with the native sugar maple. Key characteristics to distinguish from the native sugar maple are the angle of the samara, width of leaves, and white sap of leaves, petioles, and twigs (see photos).


  • Mechanical: Pulling or digging up roots

  • Chemical: Foliar, cut stump, hack and squirt, basal bark herbicide treatment

Images and their description

Image preview

Characteristics described

Picture of a large Norway Maple.

Norway maple as a large shade tree.

Picture of a green Norway maple leaf that has five to seven lobes

Leaves have 5-7 lobes, often wider than long. Cultivars can be purple.


Picture of Gray and lightly furrowed bark of the Norway maple and slightly obscured by leaves.

Gray furrowed bark of older tree.

Picture of Norway maple's double samara fruit and it's obtuse angle.

Fruit is a double samara, at obtuse angle. (All native maples are <90 degrees.)


Picture of a sprouted seed with two cotyledons.

Seedling with cotyledons.

Picture of a seedlings intermixed with other perennial plants.

Norway maple seedling with first true leaves.

Picture of a Norway maple infestation in the understory of decidious forest.

Norway maple infestation.

Picture of a broken petiole exuding white sap.

Broken petioles exude white sap.

Picture of an artist illistration of Norway maples notable characteristics.

Notable characteristics of Norway maple.