Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Acer platanoides L.
Preferred Common Name
- Norway maple
Other Scientific Names
- Acer dasyphillum Nicholson
- Acer dobrudschae Pax
- Acer fallax Pax
- Acer lactescens Steud.
- Acer laetum var. cordifolium Kanitz
- Acer platanifolium Stokes
- Acer platanoides f. stollii Schwer.
- Acer rotundum Dulac
- Acer turkestanicum Pax
International Common Names
- English: Bosnian maple; plane maple
- Spanish: arce aplatanado; arce noruego; arce platanoides
- French: érable de Norvège; érable plane; faux érable
- Portuguese: platano bastardo
Local Common Names
- Germany: europaeischer Spitzahorn; Leinbaum; Spitzahorn; spitzblättriger Ahorn
- Iran: karkaf
- Italy: acero platano; acero riccio
- Netherlands: Europese esdoorn; Noorse esdoorn
- Sweden: skogslönn
- ACRPL (Acer platanoides)
- ACRTK (Acer turkestanicum)
- Acer platanoides subsp. platanoides
- Acer platanoides subsp. turkestanicum
- Acer platanoides var. schwedleri
- Norway maple
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
A. platanoides has been noted as an invasive tree in parts of eastern North America and is a potentially invasive species in many other areas. Binggeli (1999) ranks it as moderately invasive. A. platanoides is adaptable to a variety of environmental conditions, has few natural enemies outside its native range, produces prolific quantities of seeds which germinate rapidly and achieve fast growth rate at the expense of native flora, which are often less shade tolerant. It alters species composition and community structure in invaded forests across North America.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Aceraceae
- Genus: Acer
- Species: Acer platanoides
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
A. platanoides, known as Norway maple, belongs to Section XII, series Platanoidea of the genus Platanus (Gelderen et al., 1994). A. platanoides is one of the few European species in this section. Two subspecies are recognized: subsp. platanoides, the typical subspecies, and subsp. turkestanicum (Pax) de Jong. Most geographical and morphological variants described by various authors are considered to be synonyms only.
DescriptionTop of page
A. plantanoides is a large tree, 25-30 m tall, with a dbh at maturity of 60-80 cm, exceptionally to 150 cm. It has a straight cylindrical stem and erect, glabrous, green to brown branches. The crown is tall-domed, sometimes very broad on a short stem; open in winter with rather short perpendicular shoots and often thin bunches of persistent fruits, and with very dense foliage in summer. Bark is pale grey, smooth, finely folded, or shallowly ridged in a network. Shoots pinkish-brown or olive-brown, buds ovoid; terminals dark red or red-brown, laterals green appressed. Leaves simple, opposite, deciduous, generally five-lobed, 12 x 15 cm, with shallow, open indentations between short acuminate lobes, green on both sides and borne on reddish stalk that emits a milky liquid when broken. The leaves vary greatly in size with tree age and vigour of the shoot. Petiole 15 cm (8-10 cm on old trees, to 20 cm on young trees). Autumn colour generally butter-yellow towards the end of October, but occasional trees may be scarlet in early October, and in some years most turn from yellow to orange. Flowers in erect pubescent panicles of about 30-40 flowers. Each flower monoecious, 6-8 mm, bright acid-yellow-green with five oval petals and a big, green disc. Flowers open before leaves in late March, and last well into April until leaves are newly expanded. Fruits are di-samaras, 6-10 cm across the pair, greenish yellow when ripe; with flattened carpels and broad flattened wings set at a wide angle and not narrowing toward the base (e.g. Mitchell, 1974).
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
The natural distribution of A. platanoides ranges from southern Sweden, Norway as far north as Tromsö where the trees are shrubby, Finland to 62°N, Belarus, Russia, and the Baltic States as far north as Lake Lagoda, and as far south as Ukraine (Crimea) and the Caucasus (to 43°N) but not east of the Urals. It also occurs in central Europe, but is not found naturally in the UK, western France, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark, although it has been introduced into these countries. A. platanoides subsp. turkestanicum is found in north-east Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in mountain forests, especially on the plateaux of the Tien Shan and Pamu-Alai (Gelderen et al., 1994).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
A. platanoides was being grown in Scotland, UK, in the Royal Botanic Garden before 1683. It is now common in parks, large gardens, and town suburbs, and in shelterbelts, particularly on and near chalklands (Nowak and Rowntree, 1990). It is commonly found throughout mainland Europe and North America in towns and villages, as an ornamental or shade tree.
In some zones of North America it has replaced native trees including the sugar maple (A. saccharum) in floodplains and wet sites (Kloeppel and Abrams, 1995). Wyckoff and Webb (1996) studied understorey dynamics in a New Jersey mixed hardwood forest, in an assessment of the impact of the invasive Norway maple and found that the understorey below A. platanoides was significantly less diverse than that under native A. saccharum or Fagus grandiflora. White et al. (1993) describe it as a minor invasive in Canada, noting widely varying views on its status among correspondents in their Canadian survey. Many correspondents did not consider it to be a problem, although one described it as one of the most important invasive plants in southern Ontario. It is localized and spreading in parts of Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland (White et al., 1993). It was first introduced to the USA, to Pennsylvania, in 1756 (IPANE, 20010. Early reports of its establishment in the wild occurred at the beginning of the 1900s (Rhoads and Block, 2002). It is considered to be a moderately invasive plant in Virginia (Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2003), a potentially invasive plant in Connecticut uplands (Mehrhoff et al., 2003), a category II plant in Vermont (Munger, 2003) and is also listed as an invasive or weed in Wisonsin and northeastern USA (USDA-NRCS, 2004). In New York it has been used much in landscaping and in urban habitats as a street tree and has established in the wild in several regions (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2003; IPC NYS, 2003).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page Landscape and urban plantings provide a seed source that can facilitate invasion of adjacent native forest communities, particularly where there are additional disturbance factors. Future records of the species being invasive are expected as listings of 'naturalized' or 'escaped' species are upgraded.
HabitatTop of page
In its native range, A. platanoides grows in lowland, riparian and low montane habitats, and is usually found as a component of mixed forests and does not occur as large monospecific stands (Munger, 2003). In Canada, A. platanoides has colonized hedgerows, thickets and woods (White et al., 1993). In New York, USA, it is often found in secondary woodlands (IPC NYS, 2003). In New England, USA, it occurs in a wide range of habitats including early and late successional forest and forest wetland, along roadsides and in wasteland, disturbed ground and urban gardens (IPANE, 2001). IPANE (2001) also report that the pattern of spread was from initial establishment in open or disturbed woodlands, and later to sites with less disturbance. In its exotic range in North America it occurs in many forest types, including a noted association with sugar maple Acer saccharum (Munger, 2003). Anderson (1999) reports that unlike A. saccharum, it is significantly associated with disturbed sites (e.g. roadsides, etc.) and postulates a human role in its establishment.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
A provenance trial in southern England, UK, investigated early growth and form of 10 provenances from five European countries; and results showed that provenances from Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Yugoslavia performed well, one from Russia gave a relatively poor performance, and one from Hungary was intermediate (Kerr and Niles, 1998). Verger and Cornu (1992) describe the establishment of two plantations in the Jura, eastern France, using selected clones of wavy-grained Norway maple. Numerous cultivars have been developed for ornamental purposes, especially in the USA, usually with different foliar characteristics and colours such as green, purple, or brown (Gelderen et al., 1994).
Physiology and Phenology
Growth is rapid during the first 30 years or so, by which time it can reach 18-22 m in height (Evans, 1984), and girth growth remains vigorous, up to 3 cm per year for 100 years. A. platanoides is fast growing and produces fertile seed from about age 25-30 years. Munger (2003) reports that flowering is between April and the beginning of June in North America, dependent on location. It is a deciduous species and loses its leaves in late autumn, reputedly later than many native species in North America (Munger, 2003).
A. platanoides flowers are dioecious and are pollinated by insects (Munger, 2003). Best seed crops are observed at 1-3 year intervals between age 40 and 60 years, although some seed is produced every year (Savill, 1991). The mean weight of 1000 samaras ranges from 100 to 140 g (Suszka et al., 1994), with about 7500 seeds per kg (Savill, 1991). The seeds are winged samaras and are dispersed by the wind. Germination rate is 30-80% (Suszka et al., 1994) and appears to be enhanced by soil disturbance (Munger, 2003).
A. platanoides is found over a wide range of temperate climates. Best growth occurs where mean annual rainfall exceeds 1200 mm and mean annual temperature is about 12-13°C. However, it is very cold resistant, tolerating an absolute minimum of -25°C, being found in Finland north of the Arctic circle (Ruotsalainen, 1992). Both winter and bimodal rainfall regimes are tolerated. However, the cold hardening process tends to be slow in autumn, and young trees can suffer winter trunk injury in years with severe early winter weather. Stems of young trees can also frequently suffer sun scorch injury, if they are suddenly exposed or unprotected. It may tolerate rainfall as low as 600 mm and up to 1600 mm, and a short dry season of no more than 2-3 months.
Like most maples, A. platanoides flourishes in rich, deep, moist soils, and will do best on free-draining calcareous soils, although it can also tolerate infertile soils. Generally, site requirements are similar to those of sycamore (A. pseudoplatanus), though it may be less demanding. It is said to grow better than sycamore on more acid soils (Savill, 1991), with an ideal soil pH of 6-8. On alkaline soils, chlorosis sometimes develops as a result of iron deficiency.In an investigation into the superior growth shown by A. platanoides as an exotic invasive species in oak forests in Pennsylvania, USA, Kloeppel and Abrams (1995) concluded that A. platanoides utilized water, light and soil nutrients more efficiently than the native sugar maple (A. saccharum). It can also survive on sites contaminated with heavy metals. Preferred altitudinal ranges are 500-1500 m.
In its native range, A. platanoides is usually found as a component of mixed forests and does not occur as large monospecific stands (Munger, 2003). In its exotic range in North America it occurs in many forest types, including a noted association with sugar maple Acer saccharum (Munger, 2003).
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-25|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||-2||14|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||8||24|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-12||8|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||2||3||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||600||1600||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Verticillium wilt can affect A. platanoides seedlings, especially on sites with compacted soils, and another pathogen is the grey mould leaf spot, caused by Cristulariella depraedans (Moore, 1959). By far the commonest cause of tar spot on Norway maple foliage is Rhytisma acerinum (Wulf, 1989), and in the northeastern USA, R. americanum has also been identified on A. platanoides (Hudler et al., 1998). Sooty bark disease, caused by Cryptostroma corticale, has been recorded in the USA, UK, France and Germany (Plate and Schneider, 1965). Wood decay may be caused by Ustulina deusta (Schwarze et al., 1995). There are no serious insect pests of Norway maple, though young trees, if heavily attacked by the arachnid Aceria pseudoplatani, may become desiccated or die.
The most important pests of seedlings and young trees are mammalian herbivores (Mayer, 1976). In the UK, the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is the most serious pest, feeding on the bark (Evans, 1984; Savill, 1991).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seeds are dispersed by the wind (Weber, 2003). Many naturalized A. platanoides specimens in North America occur in urban forests or close to seed sources in gardens and streets. A. platanoides has been widely introduced to temperate countries outside its native range.
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
Luken and Thieret (1997) summarize reports that A. platanoides outcompetes native Fagus grandiflora and Acer saccharum in New Jersey forest understorey, USA. It casts dense shade and outcompetes other vegetation for light, thus reducing species diversity in the forests and woodlands that it invades (Weber, 2003). As well as outcompeting understorey vegetation it can ultimately outcompete native canopy species, and in this manner it imposes both changes in diversity, species composition and community structure (McAvoy, 2001). In New Jersey, Wyckoff and Webb (1996) found that the native maple A. saccharum showed poorer regeneration under A. platanoides canopies and predicted that continued A. platanoides invasion might lead to smaller populations of the indigenous maple. The understorey below A. platanoides was significantly less diverse than that under native A. saccharum or Fagus grandiflora Wyckoff and Webb (1996). Munger (2003) reports that A. platanoides appears to be replacing the oaks Quercus alba, Q. rubra and Q. velutina in New Jersey forests.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
The ability of A. platanoides to resprout vigorously after felling makes it suitable for use in live fences. It is extensively planted as a shade and street tree as it has attractive, colourful foliage, and a large spreading crown, and Gelderen et al. (1994) and Li (1996) detail the history, development and spread of ornamental cultivars of Norway maple.
A. platanoides wood, like that of other maple species, is fine-textured, white in colour, and has an average density at 15% moisture content slightly greater than that of sycamore (A. pseudoplatanus). Wavy-grained maple is in great demand (Savill, 1991). This and other attractive wood figure effects, as well as good acoustic properties, have led to its use for musical instruments (Bosco, 1995; Savill, 1991). It is also used for furniture, marquetry and tool handles. Keller (1992) provides a summary of wood properties.
Sugar has been made from the sap in Norway and Sweden. It is a prolific pollen and nectar producing tree, supplying valuable honey bee forage.
Uses ListTop of page
- Boundary, barrier or support
- Shade and shelter
- Carved material
- Miscellaneous materials
Wood ProductsTop of page
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
- For light construction
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Musical instruments
- Tool handles
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Munger (2003) discusses the potential effects of fire on this species, noting that while a fire that removed all seed sources would be thought to reduce or remove the species, there is concern that a disturbance event of this type could lead to higher seedling recruitment and resprouting. Use of fire may also be an inappropriate management tool where A. platanoides grows in association with native assemblages that are not fire tolerant.
Digging up or other manual removal is suitable for A. platanoides seedlings and saplings as long as the roots are completely removed, or adult trees felled close to ground level (Weber, 2003). Girdling, by removing the bark and phloem layer from 10 cm around the trunk is also suggested (Royal Botanic Garden Canada, 2003). Removal of trees/saplings reduced subsequent A. platanoides recruitment and enhanced native A. saccharum regeneration, whereas removal of seedlings encouraged new A. platanoides seedlings to emerge; this is attributed to the soil disturbance associated with the pulling of seedlings (Webb et al., 2001). An additional cause for concern was that other invasive alien species colonized areas where A. platanoides trees and saplings had been removed.
Weber (2003) recommends that stumps be treated with herbicide after trees are felled. Combinations of cutting and herbicide in association with monitoring to determine when the treatment should be repeated are recommended by Royal Botanic Garden Canada (2003). Rhoads and Block (2002) propose pasting a triclopyr-oil mixture to the bark of saplings up to 10 cm in diameter at the base of the stem.
Webb et al. (2001) comment on the potential difficulty of locating a suitable biological control agent for A. platanoides because of the need to ensure that the closely related native species, e.g. the sugar maple A. saccharum, with which A. platanoides often grows, would not be affected by such an agent.
ReferencesTop of page
Bartoli M; dall' Armi C, 1996. Criterès d'exploitabilité de l'érable sycomore, de l'érable plane, du merisier et du frêne commun dans les Pyrénées centrales et leur piemont [Criteria for utilization of sycamore maple, Norway maple, sweet cherry and common ash in the central Pyrenees and foothills.]. Revue Forestière Française, 48(1):42-48; 13 ref.
Binggeli P, 1999. Invasive woody plants. http://members.lycos.co.uk/WoodyPlantEcology/invasive/index.html.
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IPANE, 2001. IPANE Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Acer platanoides (Norway maple). University of Connecticut. http://webapps.lib.uconn.edu/ipane/browsing.cfm?descriptionid=32.
IPC NYS, 2003. Primary list of invasive plants in NYS. Norway maple – Acer platanoides. Invasive Plant Council of New York State, USA. http://www.ipcnys.org/invasive%20species/acer%20platanoides.htm.
Keller R, 1992. Maple timber: present knowledge, wood variation and technical properties. [Le bois des grands erables: etat des connaissances, facteurs de variabilites, aptitudes technologiques.] Commercially valuable hardwoods: ash, wild cherry and maples. Papers given during the 5th Series of scientific and technical days, held at Nancy-Champenoux, France [organized by Tacon, F. le]. Revue-Forestiere-Francaise, 44(Numero special):133-141; 9 ref.
Kloeppel BD; Abrams MD, 1995. Ecophysiological attributes of the native Acer saccharum and the exotic Acer platanoides in urban oak forests in Pennsylvania, USA. Tree Physiology, 15(11):739-746; 56 ref.
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Mayer H, 1976. Silviculture in the mountains - the care of protection forests [Gebirgswaldbau - Schutzwaldpflege.]. 435 pp.; more than 1200 ref. Stuttgart, German Federal Republic; Gustav Fischer Verlag.
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Moore WC, 1959. British parasitic fungi: host-parasite index and a guide to British literature on the fungus diseases of cultivated plants. Cambridge University Press, London and New York. pp. xvi + 430. 4 pp. of refs. + many refs. in text.
Munger GT, 2003. Acer platanoides. Introductory. In: Fire effects information system. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feisplants/tree/acepla/all.html.
Plate HP; Schneider R, 1965. Ein Fall von asthmatiger Allergie, verursacht durch den Pilz Cryptostroma corticale. NachrBl. dt. PflSchutzdienst, 17:100-101.
Rhoads AF; Block A, 2002. Norway maple Acer platanoides L. Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. http://www.paflora.org/Acer%20platanoides.PDF.
Rice PM, 1997. INVADERS Database System (http://invader.dbs.umt.edu). Missoula, Montana, USA: Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana.
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Ruotsalainen S, 1992. Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and European oak (Quercus robur) growing north of the Arctic circle. Sorbifolia, 23(1):5-11.
Schwarze FWMR; Lonsdale D; Mattheck C, 1995. Detectability of wood decay caused by Ustulina deusta in comparison with other tree-decay fungi. European Journal of Forest Pathology, 25(6/7):327-341; 38 ref.
Suszka B; Muller C; Bonnet-Masimbert M, 1994. Graines des feuillus forestiers: de la recolte au semis [Seeds of forest trees: from collection to seedlings.]. xxiv + 292 pp.; 12 col. pl., published as one of the INRA Techniques et pratiques series; 6 pp. of ref.
Tutin TG; Burges NA; Chater AO; Edmonson JR; Heywood VH; Moore DM; Valentine DH; Walters SM; Webb DA, 1993. Flora Europaea. Volume 1. 2nd edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. World Wide Web page at http://www.rbge.org.uk/forms/fe.html.
USDA Agricultural Research Service, 1998. Germplasm Resources Information Network. http://www.ars-grin.gov
USDA-NRCS, 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov.
Verger M; Cornu D, 1992. Premier bilan du programme de multiplication vegetative de l'erable onde [First results of vegetative propagation trials of wavy-grained maple.]. In: le Tacon F, ed Commercially valuable hardwoods: ash, wild cherry and maples. Papers given during the 5th Series of scientific and technical days, held at Nancy-Champenoux, France. Revue Forestière Française, 44(Numero special):156-159; 6 ref.
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Webb SL; Pendergast THIV; Dwyer ME, 2001. Response of native and exotic maple seedling banks to removal of the exotic, invasive Norway maple (Acer platanoides). Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 128(2):141-149; 46 ref.
Webster; CR; Wangen; SR, 2009. Spatial and temporal dynamics of exotic tree invasions: lessons from a shade-tolerant invader, Acer platanoides. In: Invasive Plants and Forest Ecosystems [ed. by Kohli, \R. ..]. CRC Press, 71-85.
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CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
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IPANE, 2001. IPANE Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Acer platanoides (Norway maple)., University of Connecticut. http://webapps.lib.uconn.edu/ipane/browsing.cfm?descriptionid=32
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USDA-NRCS, 2004. The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov
Distribution MapsTop of page
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