Acer platanoides L.
Acer platanoides L. var. schwedleri G. Nicholson
Norway maples are native to much of Europe and portions of Asia, though it is now well-established in much of the northern US and Canada. Trees reach up to 100' (30 m) in height.
Identification. Norway maple leaves have sharp tips that become hairlike, while most other maples have more rounded tips. Sugar maples produce clear sap, while a plucked Norway maple leaf exudes a white sap. It is easily distinguished from other maples by its leaf shape. Also, the bark is gray and shallowly grooved, rather than shaggy. The leaves are typically bright yellow in the fall.
We used to call the seed pods “helicopters,” since they often spun quickly as they fell. Each helicopter contains two winged seeds that are completely opposite to each other.
My parents are not big fans of this tree, which, until it recently succumbed to a severe ice storm, grew to fill their front yard. It secretes chemicals that discourage the growth of other plants underneath, and creates baby trees by the truckload. In some areas Norway maples are regarded as invasives, though they remain popular as landscape plants and tolerate urban conditions well.
Acer platanoides on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Acer platanoides on Invasive.org, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health
Acer platanoides at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Acer platanoides on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Acer platanoides at the University of Connecticut Plant Database
Acer platanoides at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
Acer platanoides on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Acer platanoides description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.