Acer platanoides L.

Sapindaceae – Soapberry Family

Acer platanoides

English: Norway maple
French: Erable plane
German: Spitz-Ahorn
Italian: Acero riccio

Natural history

Norway maple is the most widespread species of maple native to Europe.  Its native range extends from eastern France to Italy and Greece in the south, southern Scandinavia in the north and east to the Ural Mountains in Russia.

The tree was introduced to North America in the mid-1700s and is widely planted in landscaped and urban environments.  It has however begun to invade native habitats, particularly in the Northeastern United States. Here in Colorado, we do not see it outside of cultivation due to its preference for deep, fertile moist soils.

The Norway maple is a relatively fast-growing tree that in its native environment has been known to live for up to 250 years.

Human history and use

Norway maple has been used extensively as an ornamental and shade tree in many areas around the world.  In Europe, it is an important timber species and has been used for veneer and furniture along with specialty items such as tool handles and gun stocks. In the 17th and early 18th century, Italian violin maker Stradivari used Norway Maple for all but the top plates of their instruments, which were made from spruce (Picea abies).


Webb S.L. and C.K. Kaunzinger. 1993. Biological Invasion of the Drew University (New Jersey) Forest Preserve by Norway Maple (Acer platanoides L.). Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 120: 343–349.

Caudullo, G., de Rigo, D., 2016. Acer platanoides in Europe: distribution, habitat, usage and threats. In: San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., de Rigo, D., Caudullo, G., Houston Durrant, T., Mauri, A. (Eds.), European Atlas of Forest Tree Species. Publ. Off. EU, Luxembourg, pp. e019159+