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.


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Norway Maple makes “Most Hated Plants” List SKU UPC Model

Invasive indeed!

Sep 15, 2018 by Nancy Jameson

Wow! I have been living my own little hell under these nasty no-good invasive beasts (13 of them) and unable to plant anything around them. I thought I was alone in my thinking they are simply relieved I am in good company! That said, I just learned that they can be tapped for syrup. Plot twist! Before I get too excited, can anyone on this thread verify this?

Tolerance and Understanding

Aug 21, 2018 by Jodie Schroeder

I too love the trees in my yard and would be disappointed if I were told that they were invasive trees. We recently took out a burning bush as we learned it is invasive. There are SO MANY beautiful trees and I hope people become awakened to planting native trees that are beneficial to native flora and fauna.
The following is from the University of Vermont extension.
Norway maple is an invasive plant you should not put in landscapes, and for which there are several good alternatives. This maple tolerates heavy shade, so establishes well in woodlands where birds drop their seeds. There, with their own heavy canopies, they shade out native wildflowers. Their shallow roots compete in forests with other less vigorous native vegetation.

Norway maple is the most prevalent maple in Europe, occurring from Norway to Iran. Seedlings first were introduced to this country by the famous nurseryman and explorer John Bartram in 1756. Similar to many such plants, its invasive tendencies didn’t become noticed until much later. In the early 1900’s the first records note it “occasionally escaped.” Today, it is on invasive plant lists in many states, and banned from further planting in others.

The Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is widely planted in landscapes and along streets. Grown for its vigor, adaptability, and cool shade it provides, it has drawbacks even in landscapes. The shallow, dense roots compete with lawns and many less vigorous landscape plants. The seedlings can be a problem in home landscapes just as they are in natural ones.

Both the red and sugar maples are alternative choices to the Norway maple. Both reach a similar height of 50 to 70 feet as the Norway maple. They are native, hardy, and have attractive seasonal foliage. The red maple (Acer rubrum) has red spring color when in bloom, and yellow to red leaves in fall. Most know the attractive leaves of Vermont’s state tree, the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). The red maple tolerates wet soils better than the sugar maple, but is not as drought tolerant. There are many other alternative trees. go to

Emotional investment in trees

Aug 10, 2018 by John Wade Roe

I can see from the Norway maple defenders here that an emotional investment is motivating your comments.

If you step back from trees you grew up with, or what you planted and watch grow, you have to ask yourself: how are the trees I choose to plant affecting my local ecosystem?

And the answer is, in the case of Norway Maple: NEGATIVELY.

There are no caterpillars or other bugs that can eat a Norway maples leaves. Its root system does crowd out other understory plants, and the only things that grow underneath are other non-native plants (English Ivy, pachysandra terminalis, hostas, and more Norway maples).

If you choose to plant like this, you are encouraging a sterile, empty landscape, since it provides no food for insects, spiders, or birds. If you plant slow-growing native oaks, the opposite will be true. Even if you plant fast growing, aggressive native black cherry trees, the opposite will be true. You will encourage a diversity of life forms around you, which is what residential landowners should be striving to do.

I agree this article isn't written maybe in the most convincing fashion, but the conclusion is correct. No one should be planting new Norway maples, and people who own property with existing Norway maples should develop a plan to remove them, and replace them with native tree species, which will also drop leaves, seeds, nut ("garbage") but which will encourage small and diverse lifeforms beyond your imagination. It really does happen.

If you plant some milkweed, you will get Monarch butterflies. If you don't rake your leaves, you will get fireflies. These are things we can see. There are also myriad lifeforms that we CAN'T see that we are encouraging by planting native plants, but when you see more and different kinds of birds in your yards, and holes in the some of the leaves, you will know that what you have planted made a positive difference.

Norway Maples

Jul 27, 2018 by Jane

I have 4 of these beauties surrounding my town house. I’m unable to cut them down because they’re not actually on my property. Is there any type of chemical or poison I can use to kill them. I absolutely and vigorously HATE these stinking trees. I’ve tried copious amounts of round-up to no avail. I also have the much hated, shedding and truly ugly false arborvitae that is perpetually dying in spots and leaving all of it’s trash too! Please, someone, invent an awful tree poison!!

Jul 12, 2018 by Kathy

My neighbor ‘s Norway maple shot a gazillion seedlings my way this year and I’ve been steadily pulling them out or if I cannot pull it out (old lady) I pull off all the leaves off. I’m hoping the ones with all the leaves will die and leave me alone. I’m finding them in the center of my ornamental grasses and in my ground cover. A pain in my back to put it nicely. Anyone out there find just cutting the tops off is adequate? At first glance the tree is a nice shaped tree but very invasive. And true that the leaves fall off late making Fall cleanup a problem.

Keep this series up

Jun 17, 2018 by Jason

Couldn't agree more with this article. What's mind blowing is that people still argue that a tree recommended by no arborist society in the country is a great idea. Tree farms grow and sell these for one reason or my they are cheap and grow fast. This is not unlike our native silver maple which is also sold at the big three. The best compromise for those looking for a maple that grows quickly and gets big is a red maple.

Evil Norway Maples

Jun 01, 2018 by Melissa Glick

Is it true that Norway Maples actually have some sort of poison in them that prevent things from growing near them? And I was also told the seedlings have some sort of poison in them as well!

Totally Agree

May 19, 2018 by Jim

We have one of these b*stards on our property line. From may until december it constantly drops cr*p on our back yard. It's 'lovely' branches fall on our power and phone line(s). I can't wait until the m*therf*cker dies. You nature-loving fans of this tree can go seed a uranium mine in your backyard.

They are bad

May 14, 2018 by Chris

While I agree with some other comments regarding issues in the article (like the use of the word trash?...and the photos not clearly showing anything relevant), Norway Maples are invasive in much of the US. It's not just the author's opinion. In some states, it is already ILLEGAL to sell them due to the way they spread and harm diversity. The comments basically saying "but I like them!" are equally ridiculous to the problems in the article itself. Do a little research, folks. The tree can be OK as a stand alone tree in an urban yard, but they are terrible if allowed to spread into woodlots or compete with any other young trees. At my parent's house, Norway Maples were starting to take over their woods. After I removed them all, sunlight once again was allowed down through the canopy and more native (and beautiful) plants began to thrive again. I left the Norways alone that were shade trees by the house since I didn't want to drastically alter their landscape all at once, but just know that if you plant Norways and have a little bit of woods around, you'll want to protect your woods by removing any young Norways that infiltrate. They are invasive, officially, scientifically, that's what they are. Give Sugar Maples a chance, or select a non-maple. Please always keep learning. I will try to also.

I see Silver Maple

Feb 13, 2018 by mike

As other comments have pointed out... you obviously have a mix of Maples... not just Norways. Norways do not seed twice and if they are dropping that many leaves during the season it is due to their habitat and health, not the variety. Every tree has a right fit/location... Norway Maples are not for you but many people love them... thats why they sell!

Angry Bitter Neighbor

Feb 07, 2018 by Ray

This woman is the type of person everyone hates to have as a neighbor, an entitled narcisst that always wants her way and she’ll screech at you until she gets it!
This tree is not an envasive species as other has pointed out, she labels it this way because SHE personally doesn’t like it, If SHE is inconvenienced in any way it’s wrong. I know this type and they are truly irrritatting.

What a hateful lonely existence when you are so intolerant of others, when you refuse to allow your neighbors to make choices they want for their OWN property and for themselves. The neighbor probably cut the tree down because they got tired of hearing her shreeking tantrums like an infant to get her way.

By the way most shallow rooted trees with large canopies will make growing anything under them challenging because of the competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight, that was a truly weak illogical argument,

Attracts box elder bugs...eeek

Dec 27, 2017 by Mims

I just had a large Norway maple cut down. Good riddance. It came with our house and initially I liked the shade it provided, but every winter literally thousands of box elder bugs hatched from this tree. They hang out on the south of our house and make a terrible mess. The only way to break the cycle was to cut down the host tree.

For real?

Dec 11, 2017 by Kelly

I stumbled here, sadly, while looking for some info about my much-loved Norway Maple. Is it non-native? Yes. Am I non-native? Yes. I can only assume that this is a site that encourages gardening since it's part of the title, but this strange language you are using in regard to trees is what makes people who are uneducated want to cut down every tree in their yard because they are "dirty." Calling tree debris 'garbage'? Yikes.

I like em

Nov 06, 2017 by Nick Perry

I planted one because I like em. The native sugar maple is a weak species; filling with rot even while young. They make weak joints. They often die long before their time. They have no pollution resistance. They do have good firewood and syrup. But the Norway maple is far superior in most ways. NM is an obvious street tree choice as is Silver maple. Sugar maple and red/white/swamp maples do poorly in urban and suburban areas.

Confusing vs. helping

Oct 01, 2017 by X

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.

Sep 18, 2017 by Cathy

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

Jul 26, 2017 by Donald Warren

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. 🙂

May 09, 2017 by Paula Mullett

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.

3.3 5.0 18 18 Wow! I have been living my own little hell under these nasty no-good invasive beasts (13 of them) and unable to plant anything around them. I thought I was alone in my thinking the Norway Maple makes “Most Hated Plants” List