Norway maple is a widely planted tree and there are many different cultivars. Some have variegated or deep purple leaves - but they have all the iconic leaves and the 'helicopter' seeds. They are a common sight in parks and green spaces and make a good shade tree when allowed to get to a good size. It was introduced into the UK during the 17th century and has become naturlised in some areas. It's native range is eastern and central Europe and has been introduced into many other countries as a shade tree. In it's natural habitat they can quite happily live for 250 years or more. In the UK this is typically a lot less - due to how our trees are managed in our green spaces and streets. Altough Norway maple can tolerate compacted soils and air pollution they don't grow very well as a street tree - or at least the ones I have seen across Exeter.
The bark is longitudinally fissured with older trees and this really helps when trying to identify them as the bark of Sycamore is very different. As the fissures are quite narrow (compared to something line English oak) it allows for smaller insects to explore as well as lichen and moss to creep into the smaller gaps. The twigs are shiny and light brown and during the Winter the buds are red. The buds are arranged in opposte pairs - like all members of the Acer genus.
On mature trees the bark is narrowly fissured
The buds arranged in opposte pairs and are a deep red colour in the winter
The leaves are lobed with 5 to 7 pointed lobes and are typically smooth. The colour of the leaves will vary depending on the cultivar - but the standard Norway maple will be plain green leaves. The petiole is long (the leaf stalk) so on a very windy day the leaves flap about quite a bit! During the Autumn the tree is transformed with many shades of yellow, orange and red and the ground will become a carpet of warm colours.
Norway maple is a deciduous tree and can reach heights of up to 25m and is often found in parks
The flowers are green and yellow and are held in upright clusters
The flowers are a very intersting feature of Norway maple and are often overlooked. During April the flowers will be present along with the new leaves. The flowers are bright green and yellow and from a distance are mistaken as the new Spring leaves. Up close the flowers are small and almost cup shaped and in erect clusters. They are typically hermaphrodite which means both the male and female parts are within the same flower. Quite often the flowering parts will be more dominant of either male or female. They are pollinated by insects but it is also capable of self pollination. After successful pollination the female parts of the flower develop inthe iconic helicopter seeds. The fruit is a samara with 2 winged achenes containing the 2 seeds. They are dispersed by the wind and can be carried away quite from the parent tree due to the winged design. The angle of the wings is nearly 180 degress which is very similar to Field maple.
The leaves are lobed with 5 to 7 pointed lobes and some cultivars have mixed colours
The iconic helicopters will cover the ground during the Autumn