Norway Maple threatens my roof
You may have noticed by now that invasive plants make me a little angry as well as the people who continue to plant invasives, and especially the people who continue to sell invasive plants. Or rather, they really TICK ME OFF.
So I’m going to start a new series in which I highlight a specific invasive plant, where I’ll discuss what makes that plant such a problem and how we can eradicate them from our landscapes.
Norway Maple top snapped off, resprouting from trunk
The plant that is inspiring my anger this week is the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) because my neighbor has a whole yard full of them and he has no interest in maintaining them or eliminating the danger that they present to my roof.
This tree was brought to America by the famous botanist of Philadelphia, John Bartram. During the 1930s and 1940s when the streets of many cities lost their shade trees to Dutch Elm disease, Norway Maple was widely used as a replacement because of its fast growth and deep shade.
Brush pile of Norway Maple fallen branches
Norway Maples continue to be sold throughout the country as ornamental shade trees. I continue to hope that someday soon Home Depot (and Lowes and Walmart) will awaken to the harm they are causing the environment by continuing to sell invasive plants. Maybe one day responsibility will win out over profits.
Here’s why I hate Norway Maples:
This is one dirty tree, dropping trash at all seasons, including flower buds, two crops of seeds, twigs, branches, and copious amounts of leaves.
It sheds large branches from the top, then resprouts along the truck. Every time the wind blows large branches fall from the top of the tree, making me very nervous about my roof.
It makes a LOT of seedlings. I spend way too much time every spring and summer in an attempt to hand pull all of them.
Nothing grows underneath them. My flower beds along this neighbors fenceline are empty. Every year I try to fill in these beds, and every year I watch in sadness as everything dies.
It is the last tree to lose its leaves in the fall, often not until after Thanksgiving, which means that having my gutters cleaned is a game of Russian roulette. Will the leaves fall before it snows? It’s been a hit and miss proposition.
I fear for my two dogs safety when they are in the yard. One of those falling branches would hurt them badly.
Norway Maple blow-down
Norway Maples have severe environmental impacts:
They grow faster than native maples and other forest trees and its dense, shallow root system makes it difficult for native seedlings to get established.
They create a dense shade, under which other species cannot survive, hence my naked garden beds.
The seedlings are very shade-tolerant, able to spread and grow in interior forests. These seedlings are usually the only plant that can survive in the shade of mature Norway Maples.
Forests with Norway Maples show much lower species diversity than forests that have not yet been invaded.
Its shallow roots make it prone to blowdowns.
It is tolerant of poor soils and air pollution, making it the dominant tree in many urban settings.
Eradication of these trees requires a huge amount of labor. Seedlings can be hand pulled, and mature trees cut down, but it often resprouts again from the stump. This may be accomplished in my small city yard, but the cost is prohibitive in woodland and forest settings.
Happy Day! Norway Maple Removal
Please do not ever intentionally plant this tree!
The good news is that my neighbor has basically abandoned this house and a very happy day for us was when we had these trees cut down.
A wonderful reference to the impacts and eradication of other most hated plants is Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species.
Leave Us Your Comments Below!
Click the Submit Your Comments button below to leave us your comments or questions!
More From Ecosystem Gardening
Confusing vs. helping
If you want to help others eradicate a specific plant you would do well to describe it accurately.
Most of the pix you posted show the characteristic ragged leaves of Silver maple which is very clear by the 1st "roof" picture, and your descriptions are sketchy. No maple species produces 2 crops of seeds in a season, so you may have both Silver (spring) & Norway (fall). Norway (exotic) is no match for Silver (native) for invasiveness and rapid growth. Neither is desirable; Sugar and Red are much more beautiful and not messy albeit harder to grow, but worth the effort.
I love this tree.
I have six Norway Maples on my property, and I wish I had more. Firstly, they grow fast. Secondly, they provide great shade. Thirdly, their green leaves are among the first to open, and remain leafy green long after most other trees have lost their leaves. And forth, they block out really ugly views (abd neighbours' peering eyes). I have had no problem growing hostas underneath them, and even if I couldn't grow anything under, so what. They are a beautiful, tall tree that adds beautiful greenery for three seasons. Yes, seedlings show up a lot, and yes, there are a lot of leaves to rake up in the fall, but to be honest, I rarely even rake them. They break down organically, and create more topsoil each and every year. I have one right in front of my bedroom window, and I love it. It gives me privacy, and with the shallow roots, I don't have to worry about the roots causing damage to my foundation. I just trim a few branches every couple of years. Have had it there over twenty years, and I love, love, love it, just as I love those in my back yard. By the way, my rating is for the tree, not this article.
Norway Maple makes "most hated" list
You have certainly expressed your basic feelings. But maybe some people love the shade? I would have really liked to have seen and had described the differences from the Sugar Maple, esp. the leaf difference and bark. Many people may have no idea how they differ (like me, as they seem so very similar). I would hate to see people cut down a Sugar Maple thinking it is an invasive. 🙂
My Husband and I also have a Norway Maple that has destroyed all of the underlying grass and plants. We are seriously considering having the tree removed but have one question. How long will it take for all of our vegetation to once again thrive after the tree his gone? I've read several articles stating that the tree actually emits toxins in the root system. This leads us to worry that it will remain in the soil.