Norway Maple Question

Asked June 7, 2016, 2:23 PM EDT

About eight years ago the first Norway maple tree died in my yard. I cut down the second one this year. The symptoms of their demise are the same. It begins when branches begin to bear leaves in the spring. The leaves do not reach full maturity yet the branches bear fruit (maple seeds). The leaves wither and die and shortly thereafter the entire branch dies. Even after the spring, I’ve noticed healthy branches that just begin to die (I realize it’s normal for branches to die, particularly if they are well within the body of the tree and can’t get enough light. This is not the case with the branches I’m describing.). When I cut down the second tree earlier this spring, I noticed a bright green color in cross sections of wood from the trunk and large branches. Irregularly shaped, the green-colored area covered about half of a cross section. Most of the tree was dead and that wood had no green discoloration. Once the process begins, it takes about 3 years for the whole tree to die—every year more and bigger branches die. Is this normal for a Norway maple (any tree?)? Have these trees reached the end of their lifespan? The last Norway maple I have is beginning to show the same symptoms. It’s a mature tree—35-40 feet tall and wide, and a breast-high circumference just over five feet. I noticed a few branches were dying in the same way as the other trees’ branches. I cut one off (the others are beyond my reach) and sure enough, I saw green in the wood. Is this normal or is there some sort of organism at work in the wood of these trees? Thanks for your time and consideration. Bill

Baltimore County Maryland

3 Responses

Norway maples are notorious for behaviour such as you describe. They simply do not live long. You could consider replacing them with other types of maples or oaks. There is no spray that is going to make them live longer. Keep it deeply watered in time of drought. All trees have a green cambium layer. Some trees have darker heartwood. vw

Thanks for your response. I'd like to emphasize that the irregularly shaped, bright green-colored area appeared very strange to me. Its shape and color was not related to the normal growth of a tree. Regardless, I'll enjoy the tree while I can. By the way, what is the normal lifespan of a Norway maple? Thanks again!

Norway maples often strangle themselves with their own roots (called girdling roots.) About 20 to 30 years is not an uncommon lifespan.

Incidentally, the undersized leaves and copious seeds (a last attempt to propagate themselves) are signs of declining trees.

Norway maples can be invasive and are not native so, in that respect, maybe you can feel something good about removing them.