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 “Get my Irish Up.”
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.
The plant that is inspiring my ire 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.
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 trunk. 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 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.
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 several of these invasive Norway Maples most dangerous to our house 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.
So what is your most hated plant? How have you tried to keep it out of your landscape? Is it working? Rant away about the plants you hate the most in the comments below.
Update: check out the scary demise of these Norway Maples by a dangerous contractor
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