All maples are not created equal—especially when they’re on a $20 bill

All maples are not created equal—especially when they’re on a $20 bill

As a gardener who has suffered under the shade and roots of three (3) Norway maples planted inextricably in the easeway fronting my house, I can sympathize with those who are distressed about a Norway maple leaf being enshrined forever on the new Canadian currency. It was supposed to be a sugar maple leaf, which has three triangular major leaf lobes. Instead, the small leaf just to the left of Queen Elizabeth’s head looks much more like the five-lobed Norway maple leaf.

The Norway maple is an alien scourge throughout the Northeast. (Indeed, a new list has it classified as an invasive species in NY state.) The seedlings are broadcast far and wide, and they grow quickly. I guess that’s why some misguided city arborists chose these to reforest certain streets of Buffalo, many of which had been devastated by Dutch Elm disease. I shouldn’t complain too bitterly—at least we have a tall leafy canopy over our little side street—unlike many of the desolate cul de sacs of Western New York’s suburban outposts.

Nonetheless, thanks to this alien maple, I am paying a landscape company to help me install a raised bed that will make it possible to plant something in the barren dirt between the three maples.  I have to do something—can’t stand the look of it any more, and I’m pretty sure that a tough perennial like hakonechloa grass will stand up to the conditions, even when the roots spread throughout the raised bed, as they surely will.

If you’ve never had Norway maples on your property, then you can’t possibly understand how loathsome this tree is. Oh, and by the way, even the fall color of such varieties as Crimson King is usually undermined by some kind of fungal disease that disfigures the leaves, but (sad to say) doesn’t kill the tree. So in fall you get slow-falling leaves with weird white or black spots on them.

In conclusion, I agree with anyone who is protesting this choice for the Canadian currency. These are the type of trees that give all urban trees a bad name.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on January 28, 2013 at 8:00 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.


    • Paul Jung
    • 7th June 2016

    I need to look at my currency more closely!

    • Linda B Secrist
    • 13th August 2016

    rather than battle with those dreaded Norways, my choice would be remove and replace. The only good Norway maple is a dead one

    • Jon
    • 29th September 2016

    The problem is the Norway will quickly grow into the raised beds. I have a Norway and the only thing I find that will grow is Pachysandra and some big tough Elegans hosta.

    • MiSchelle
    • 14th October 2016

    We had several mature Norway Maple on our property when we bought it 15 years ago and any financial windfall I receive is put toward their removal – at anywhere from $300 – $600 a pop. When I think of the fun things I could have done with that money, let alone the money wasted trying to find something to grow under them, I could just spit. They are messy, messy trees! I resent cleaning up the seed pods in early summer and weeding the dozens of seedling of those I miss. Most of all, I hate raking the fungus-ridden leaves late in the season well after all other trees have dropped theirs and especially well after the limits of my aging back…my blood pressure rises every time I hear the name.

    • MiSchelle
    • 19th October 2016

    Luck for you, Linnea! The lowest branches on my Norways were 40′ in the air which would have required a lot of rope and a fearless disposition. If they hadn’t shaded each other out due to their too-close spacing we may have been able to salvage one or two!

    • commonweeder
    • 14th December 2016

    When we put an addition on to our library we took down the Norway maple and planted a new disease resistant elm. Every opportunity to remove a Norway maple must be seized.

    • Chris
    • 16th December 2016

    What grows under my 80 year old Norway Maple: Yews, Woodland Sunflower and Big Leaved Aster (with watering sometimes – twice this past summer), that low growing creeping Sedum, Whitley’s Speedwell.
    Hate the bl;ack spotted leaves in fall.

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