This is the first part of a series on Norway maple cultivars.
Norway maple is one of the most common trees in North America. It has an extended history on the continent, having been introduced as an ornamental plant to the United States in the early 20th century. While Norway maple is classified in several states as invasive, numerous cultivars have been derived from it over the past few decades. The following examines some of the most notable Norway maple varieties, including ‘Almira’, ‘Columnare’, ‘Cleveland’, and ‘Crimson King’.
‘Almira’ is a shorter variety of Norway maple, growing around 25 feet in height, with a width of 15 to 20 feet. When crowded, or shaded around the sides of the crown, it may grow taller. It has a rounded form, and grows at a slow rate. Greenish-yellow flowers form on the branches in spring. The leaves are star-shaped and lobed. Through spring and summer, the leaves are colored green. By fall, they turn bright yellow. Like the parent species, ‘Almira’ has a shallow root system, allowing it to compete with and dominate wild grasses and weeds. ‘Almira’ makes for a small to medium sized bonsai specimen. Birds and rodents harvest and consume the seeds. It is drought tolerant, and resistant to pollution, making it an ideal street tree.
‘Columnare’ is a cultivar of Norway maple. It is a medium to large sized tree, reaching heights of 30 to 60 feet. ‘Columnare’ is most notable for its narrow spread, with it only growing to a width of 15 to 20 feet. It develops at a medium rate, and has a long lifespan that exceeds 100 years. It has a distinctly upright growth habit, and forms short lateral branches that often grow horizontally. The leaves are lobed. They are colored dark green through spring and summer, before brightening to yellow in fall. Greenish-yellow corymbs appear on the branches in spring. Its root system is shallow, allowing it to compete with and dominate wild grasses and weeds. It can be used as a large bonsai specimen. It is drought tolerant, and resistant to pollution, making it an ideal street tree. Various birds and rodents use the seeds as a food source.
‘Cleveland’ is a medium sized cultivar, growing 40 to 50 feet tall, with a spread of around 30 feet. It is narrower than many other maple species. The branches on young trees grow in an upright fashion. They eventually combine to form an ovate crown. Greenish-yellow flowers form on the branches in spring. The leaves are simple and lobed. They have a star shape. The leaves are green through spring and summer. They turn yellow by fall. ‘Cleveland’ has a shallow root system that allows it to out-compete most wild grasses and weeds. This variety makes for an excellent bonsai specimen. It is drought tolerant, and resistant to pollution, making it an ideal street tree.
‘Crimson King’ is a medium sized tree, growing 30 to 40 feet tall, with a 20 to 40 foot spread. It a vigorous grower, developing a fast rate. It has an ovate to rounded form, with a dense crown. Clusters of reddish-orange flowers appear on the branches in spring, just as budburst commences. The flowers give way to purple samaras. ‘Crimson King’ is renown for its distinctly colored foliage. The foliage is purple during spring and summer. In fall, the leaves turn brown, dark maroon, or bronze prior to being shed. The leaves are simple, lobed, and star-shaped. This variety grows best when planted in sites exposed to full sun. It has a shallow root system, which allows it to out-compete weeds and wild grasses. ‘Crimson King’ has been awarded the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. It is an appealing bonsai selection. It is drought tolerant, and resistant to pollution, making it an ideal street tree.
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Photo courtesy of Ryan Somma CC-by-2.0