Norway Maple Hedging – Acer Platanoides
Acer platanoides, more commonly known as the Norway Maple, is a large deciduous tree often employed for hedging in parks and larger gardens. Known for its stunning autumnal colours and rapid growth rate, it is an attractive, albeit larger, alternative to the native Field Maple.
Description and Characteristics
When used for hedging, the Norway Maple can grow to a substantial height of 12-20 metres (40-66 feet), making it an impressive boundary feature in larger landscapes. The leaves are deep green and glossy in the summer, turning a vibrant yellow in the autumn months.
The Norway Maple has a fast growth rate, typically gaining 30-60cm (1-2 feet) per year, and under ideal conditions, the tree can live for over 100 years.
Flowering, Fruits, and Reproduction
In spring, the Norway Maple produces clusters of yellow-green flowers, which add an additional burst of colour. These flowers mature into winged seeds, known as ‘samaras’, which disperse effectively by wind in the autumn months.
Benefits to Wildlife
The Norway Maple offers less value to wildlife than the native Field Maple, but it still provides some benefits. Its dense foliage offers nesting sites for birds, while the flowers provide some pollen and nectar for early pollinators. However, it’s worth noting that Norway Maple’s dense canopy can inhibit undergrowth, which can have an impact on biodiversity.
Ideal for British Gardens
The Norway Maple is hardy and adaptable, tolerating a range of soil types, from acidic to alkaline, and prefers full sun to part shade. Its dense, broad canopy offers excellent shade and wind protection, making it a practical choice for larger gardens or parks.
As a hedging plant, it provides a tall, dense screen or windbreak, while its vibrant autumn colour adds aesthetic appeal. Its adaptability and relatively low maintenance requirements also make it a favoured choice for urban and roadside plantings.
Distribution in the UK
Introduced to the UK in the 17th century, the Norway Maple is not native but is widely planted in parks and gardens throughout the country. While it can naturalize and sometimes become invasive in woodland areas, it is primarily found in cultivated settings.
In summary, Acer platanoides, with its impressive size, striking autumn colours, and adaptability, is an excellent choice for larger British garden designs. It’s especially suited for creating tall, robust hedges, screening unsightly views, or providing substantial shade and wind protection. However, considerations should be made for its potential impact on undergrowth and smaller native species.