Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Acer platanoides
(Norway maple)



Acer platanoides (Norway maple)


  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Acer platanoides
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Norway maple
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • 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. Bingge...

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CopyrightPiero Bruschi
InflorescencesPiero Bruschi
CopyrightPiero Bruschi
FoliagePiero Bruschi


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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

EPPO code

  • ACRPL (Acer platanoides)
  • ACRTK (Acer turkestanicum)


  • Acer platanoides subsp. platanoides
  • Acer platanoides subsp. turkestanicum
  • Acer platanoides var. schwedleri

Trade name

  • maple
  • Norway maple

Summary of Invasiveness

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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 Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Sapindales
  •                         Family: Aceraceae
  •                             Genus: Acer
  •                                 Species: Acer platanoides

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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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.


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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 Type

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Seed propagated


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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 Table

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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: 21 Jul 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes


IranPresentNativeOriginal citation: Rhoads and Block (2002)
TurkeyPresentNativePlantedOriginal citation: Rhoads and Block (2002)


Bosnia and HerzegovinaPresentNative
Faroe IslandsPresentIntroducedPlanted
North MacedoniaPresentNative
NorwayPresentNativeOriginal citation: Rhoads and Block (2002)
RussiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Central RussiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Eastern SiberiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Northern RussiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Russian Far EastPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Southern RussiaPresentNativePlanted
-Western SiberiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
San MarinoPresentNative
Serbia and MontenegroPresentNative
SwedenPresentNativeOriginal citation: Rhoads and Block (2002)
United KingdomPresentIntroducedInvasivePlantedOriginal citation: Weber (2003)
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedPlanted

North America

-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedPlantedOriginal citation: Munger (2003)
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedPlantedOriginal citation: Munger (2003)
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedPlanted
United StatesPresentIntroduced1756InvasiveOriginal citation: Rhoads and Block (2002)
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedPlanted
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedPlanted
-New YorkPresentIntroducedInvasive
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-OregonPresentIntroducedPlantedOriginal citation: Rice (1997)
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedPlanted
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedPlanted



History of Introduction and Spread

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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 Introduction

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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.


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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 List

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Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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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).

Reproductive Biology

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).

Environmental Requirements

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 Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
63 43 500 1500

Air Temperature

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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


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration23number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall6001600mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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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 Dispersal

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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 Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact: Biodiversity

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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 Factors

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  • 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
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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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 List

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  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Shade and shelter


  • Ornamental


  • Carved material
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Wood/timber

Wood Products

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  • Boxes


Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • For light construction



  • Brushes
  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Musical instruments
  • Tool handles
  • Toys

Prevention and Control

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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.

Cultural Control

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.

Mechanical Control

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.

Chemical Control

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.

Biological Control

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.


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Distribution References

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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