Tree Profiles: Norway Maple Cultivars, Part 3

This is the third 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 ‘Emerald Queen’, ‘Erectum’, and ‘Faasen’s Black’.

‘Emerald Queen’ is a medium to large sized cultivar, growing 40 to 70 feet tall, with a 35 to 45 foot spread. It is a vigorous grower, developing at a fast rate. It assumes a spreading, ovate habit. Its branches angle upward, and combine to form a dense crown. In spring, the branches are covered in greenish-yellow corymbs. The leaves have a slightly reddish hue when they unfold, but turn dark green by summer. In fall, the leaves turn bright yellow. ‘Emerald Queen’ develops best when planted in sites exposed to full sun. Its shallow root systems allows it to out-compete weeds and wild grasses. It can adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions, exhibiting some resistance to drought, pollution, and salt. Various birds and rodents feed on the seeds.

‘Erectum’ is a medium to large sized tree, growing 40 to 60 feet, with a narrow 15 to 25 foot spread. It grows at a fast rate, and establishes an upright growth habit. ‘Erectum’ is sometimes confused with the cultivar ‘Columnare’ due to its narrow frame. This cultivar has a broad, dense crown when mature. Greenish-yellow corymbs form on the branches in spring. The leaves are simple, lobed, and star-shaped. They are colored green through spring and summer, but brighten to a resplendent orange-yellow hue in fall. It has a shallow root system that competes with and displaces wild grasses and weeds. It is adaptable to wide range of climatic conditions, and can be planted in a variety of soils. ‘Erectum’ requires full sun to flourish. Rodents and birds feast on the seeds.

‘Faasen’s Black’ ‘Fassen’s Black’ is a medium sized tree that reaches heights of 40 to 50 feet, with a 30 to 40 foot spread. It grows at a medium rate, and has an upright, ovate habit. This cultivar is renown for its distinct deep purple foliage. This oustanding shade brightens to a vibrant red in fall. The leaves are glossy and become turned up at the margins as they mature. In spring, the branches are blanketed in yellow-green corymbs. These give way to samaras. 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 and salt, making it an ideal street tree. Various birds and rodents use the seeds as a food source. ‘Faasen’s Black’ has low seed viability, with typically less than 5% of seeds succesfully germinating. Full sun is required for ‘Fassen’s Black’ to thrive.

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Photo courtesy of Martin Bobka CC-by-2.5