Old Town Hall Norway Maple

Context is everything when it comes to plants. When we introduce a new tree to a region, depending on the climate and soil conditions, a tree may maintain a tolerable relationship with other plants. But usually it either does poorly without human intervention or it overpowers local plants. If we let such trees take over, they eventually create a “dead zone” where only invasives live. This weakens wildlife, as food resources become very poor, and throws the balance of nature into chaos.

The Norway Maple is one of those invasive trees in New England. It was introduced to the United States in 1756 as an ornamental and soon became a popular tree for urban areas because it creates dense shade and is highly tolerant of smoke and dust. Look at the seedlings sprouting out all over the lawn around this Norway Maple. They grow faster and are stronger than local trees, quickly shading and outnumbering other seedlings. The local trees can’t get enough light, get weak and die.

So should we cut this mature tree down? The Massachusetts government says not necessarily. Mature trees can be kept and managed by pulling their seedlings from nearby forest areas and mowing around them where there is lawn. But it is forbidden to import, sell or propagate the Norway Maple in our state. When you consider a new plant for your yard, we urge you to consider a native species. They need very little care, as they are adapted to this climate, and provide the best nutrition and shelter conditions for local wildlife.