49. Norway Maple

(Acer platanoides)

Family: Aceraceae


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Norway Maples by Kane Hall face the Suzzallo Library. Few species are more widely planted as urban street-trees; every major temperate city where the climate allows displays Norway maple in its downtown area. This may also be because it tolerates pollution well. Norway maple admirably combines requisite size, strength, thriftiness, and ease of propagation. It also varies easily, so the nursery trade has developed mushroom-shaped dwarfs, columnar sentries, ovals, purple-leaved cultivars, and even cut-leaved varieties. No, it isn't as stirring in silhouetted beauty or as enchanting in fall color as Sugar Maple, but it is a better choice for less-than-ideal sites. The grey-brown and shallowly grooved trunk is quite similar to that of Seattle's native bigleaf maple, but the leaf is not as large or deeply cut, and the seeds spread their wings wider and have no bristly hairs.


It leafs out earlier than other maples and tends to hold onto its leaves for longer in the autumn. A rose colored dye can be obtained from the bark. Unlike most other maples, this one does not develop shaggy bark at maturity. The petiole, the stalk of the leaf, is 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 centimeters) long and secretes a milky juice when broken. Norway maple has one unfortunate characteristic: it releases chemicals underground that discourage anything else from growing underneath it, and this tends to cause bare muddy run-off conditions beneath the crown. It is considered an invasive species in some states because of this characteristic.

[Leaves and samaras of Norway Maple]

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