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Acer platanoides L.

Norway maple

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilySapindaceaeSoapberry family
SpeciesplatanoidesMeans “resembles sycamore leaves” (genus Platanus)

About plant names...

Norway maples are native to much of Europe and portions of Asia, though it is now well-established in much of the northern US and Canada. Trees reach up to 100' (30 m) in height.

Identification. Norway maple leaves have sharp tips that become hairlike, while most other maples have more rounded tips. Sugar maples produce clear sap, while a plucked Norway maple leaf exudes a white sap. It is easily distinguished from other maples by its leaf shape. Also, the bark is gray and shallowly grooved, rather than shaggy. The leaves are typically bright yellow in the fall.

We used to call the seed pods “helicopters,” since they often spun quickly as they fell. Each helicopter contains two winged seeds that are completely opposite to each other.

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Croatia

  1. Branchlet with corymb, terminating developing young shoots (a-e) with deciduous (typically green) transitional leaves at their base (k).
  2. Branchlet with mature leaves and ripe fruits (double samaras). Stalk exudes a milky sap when broken. Wings of the samaras spread are perpendicular to the pedicels (“horizontally spreading”), with conspicuously flat nutlets.
  3. Seedling with cotyledons (c) and first pair of ordinary leaves.
  4. Winter-branchlet; buds are reddish-brown, glossy, terminal bud is larger. Leaf-scars are opposite, horseshoe- or heart-shaped and connected extreme [opposite] laterally. After Hempel & Wilhelm, 1889.

My parents are not big fans of this tree, which, until it recently succumbed to a severe ice storm, grew to fill their front yard. It secretes chemicals that discourage the growth of other plants underneath, and creates baby trees by the truckload. In some areas Norway maples are regarded as invasives, though they remain popular as landscape plants and tolerate urban conditions well.

Online References:

Acer platanoides on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Acer platanoides on Invasive.org, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health

Acer platanoides at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Acer platanoides on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Acer platanoides at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Acer platanoides at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Acer platanoides on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Acer platanoides L. var. schwedleri G. Nicholson


Acer platanoides description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 Aug 2021.

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Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

10/25/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashua, New Hamp­shire
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

4/8/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.5 × 7.1 cm) ID is uncertain

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

10/25/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashua, New Hamp­shire
≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

4/8/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 5" (18 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)


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