Acer platanoides or Norway Maple trees are popular for their vibrant autumn foliage colours which range from deep purple to golden yellow. Norway Maples are a species of Acer that is native to central Europe and unlike other Maple trees, mature Norway Maples do not develop a shaggy bark.
Norway Maple trees are deciduous with broad, rounded crowns that create a dense canopy, making them ideal for screening purposes. The attractive lobed leaves come in a variety of colours, including green, yellow and purple. The leaves typically change colour in autumn, before falling. Norway Maple trees produce corymbs of small, yellow-green flowers which appear in spring before new leaves emerge. The fruit of Maple trees are called 'samara', with Acer Platanoides producing a double samara.
It is popular to plant them in streets and avenues as they are tolerant of poor, compacted soils, drought and pollution. Depending on the planting conditions, Acer Platanoides trees can live for anything from 60 to 250 years.
Sometimes confused with the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), there are a few tell-tale signs to distinguish between the two species. Firstly, Sugar Maple trees produce a clear sap whereas Norway Maples (Acer platanoides) produce a white sap. The sap from Norway Maples is not used for maple syrup as it is low in sugar. Also, the seed of Sugar Maple trees are globular where Acer Platanoides' seeds are flat.
The name of this species is derived from the Latin for sharp (acer) in reference to the pointed leaves and its similarity to the species Platanus with ‘oides’ being Latin for ‘resembling’, culminating in Acer platanoides. Norway Maple trees yield a hard, yellowish white wood that is used for making furniture and for turnery.
Acer platanoide was introduced to North America from Europe by John Bartram in 1756. During the 1950s and 1960s it became extremely popular and was planted by the thousands. This was due to the huge loss of American Elm trees which were affected by Dutch Elm Disease. To this day you can see many Acer Platanoides trees planted in Central Park.