Acer platanoides (Norway Maple)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Sapindaceae (Soapberry)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:Europe, Asia
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:part shade, sun; urban landscapes, forests
Bloom season:May
Plant height:50 to 70 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Round, branching, upright clusters about 2 inches across appear just prior to or at the same time leaves emerge in spring. Male and female flowers may be on separate trees or the same tree. For both, the flowers open broadly, are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, greenish yellow with 5 oval-lance sepals up to 1/8 inch long and 5 spatula shaped petals nearly twice as long as the sepals. In the center is a brownish green disk. Male flowers have 8 spreading stamens around the disk, females a 2-part, curled style in the center. Flower stalks are long, slender and hairless or glandular-hairy.

Leaves and bark: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple, opposite, and long stalked, the blade up to 8 inches long and 10 inches wide with 5 to 7 palmate, sharply pointed lobes, the two basal lobes a single sharp point. Leaf edges are smooth and often wavy. Upper surface is dark green (though this can vary with the cultivar) and smooth, the lower surface paler and smooth except for dense patches of stiff hairs in the vein axils and short stiff hairs on the veins near the axils.

[photo of trunk] One year old twigs are reddish brown and smooth, older branches turning grayish to brown like the trunk. The bark is moderately textured by furrows and ridges. The national champion in the US is over 6 feet in diameter at breast height (dbh).

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a pair of winged seeds (samara), that can be up to 2½ inches long (though this can also vary with the cultivar) and are widely angled apart to nearly 180°. Fruit matures from September into October.


As its name implies, this is a maple native to Norway and much of Europe into western Asia. It was introduced in colonial times as an urban street tree and is still widely bought and sold for that purpose today. Many years of horticultural selection has produced cultivars that vary widely in form, from columnar to densely global and leaf color with red maroons, bright yellow and even variegated. But it has escaped human cultivation into natural systems where it has become a component of successional forests. It is highly shade tolerant and mature trees produce such dense canopies, little light is provided for understory and ground layer plants beneath them and makes for serious competition with our highly prized native Sugar Maple. While the misinformed often automatically identify its red leaved cultivars as "red" maples, it shares few similarities with our native Red Maple (Acer rubrum). Except for its distinctive flowers in the spring and widely angled seeds in the fall, green varieties are most often confused with the native Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum). Norway Maple leaves are generally bigger and more sharply pointed, the points longer and more tapering than Sugar Maple, and both upper and lower surfaces darker green. Few Norway Maples provide meaningful fall color, a few yellows at most and often persisting on the tree until late season frosts before turning a drab olive brown. Still when in doubt, the easiest way to ID Norway Maple is to tear a leaf or snap a leaf stalk in two and look for the milky sap the fresh break produces.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Genevieve - Excelsior
on: 2015-04-14 20:09:27

This tree is thought to be invasive...right?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-04-14 20:46:19

Yes, Genevieve, it's invasive

Posted by: Freddie - Minneapolis
on: 2020-06-17 12:50:09

There are several maple trees in my neighborhood with the purple/maroon foliage throughout the spring/summer/fall. Are these all Norway maples? That is, are there native (or non-problematic) maple trees with the maroon leaves? I'm not in the market for such a tree, just curious.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-06-17 13:06:09

Freddie, there are many cultivars in the nursery trade. You'll know Norway maple by the milky sap oozing from freshly broken leaves and leaf stalks.

Posted by: Paige Hulne - Austin MN
on: 2024-05-10 16:58:30

Popping up in forested spots in my yard, I've been taking them out but they tend to spread like wildfire. Definitely do not let this thing grow, they shade out native trees and ground cover with their dense canopy and are capable of taking over a woodland.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.