Acer platanoides (Norway Maple)
Acer platanoides and its many cultivars, are only suitable for a medium to large garden - unless you are after a big patch of shade. Just because it has the names 'Maple' and 'Acer' it does not mean it is one of those attractive small shrubs for the garden - Attractive yes; small, no! It is a medium to large tree favoured by local councils in their parks and at the roadside - where it will give plenty of shade! It's general habit of growth is with a spreading canopy - however there are a few narrower varieties within the large group.
Most of the Norway Maples have good autumn colour immediately before leaf fall. Depending upon the variety, the autumn colours can range from light golden yellow through to deep crimson - often with a multitude of colours on the same leaf.
The leaves will deposit a pretty carpet - or a mess - on the ground, depending upon your particular circumstances.
In short, if you are after a small or medium tree for your garden, you will not normally find it within the Norway Maple group. Even though it is still referred to a a tree suitable for gardens by many writers. It is not uncommon for the Norway Maples to reach a height of 30m - 90ft, with a spread of 10 metres - 30ft.
Acer platanoides is a robust grower with few problems - thereby making it suitable for public parks and large estates.
As with all Maples - large and small - it can suffer from aphids in the earlier growing season. Scale insect sometimes affects but is rarely visible. As a garden tree, the drip from aphid residue can be a problem - similar to the honeydew deposit sometimes seen on cars parked under the trees on the highways.
Caterpillars can also be a problem - as my personal experience as a public park manager will attest to. A bad infection can more or less defoliate a tree.
Tar Spot is a fungal leaf disease that can affect, but whilst the black blotches are unsightly, they rarely seem to affect the health of the tree. It just keeps growing!
Pruning of these trees should take place as soon as possible after leaf fall, and certainly not be left until the spring, as sever sap bleeding can take place.
There are several coloured foliage and variegated forms. These are generally slower growing, though the variegated forms can send out all green reverted branches which will soon take over unless removed.
Out of the red foliaged varieties, Acer platanoides Crimson King is popular, with a slightly more upright growing version - Acer p. Crimson Sentry also available. Goldsworth Purple is deeper red.
Acer p. 'Fassen's Black' has the darkest foliage that I am aware of, though later in the summer Acer platanoides 'Schwedleri' runs a close second for dark foliage.
The lighter foliage types include the well tried Acer platanoides 'Drummondii' which has wide creamy white margins. It disappoints for autumn colour though!
For pure delight with the autumn display - the green leaved varieties are normally best with the possible exception for a short period, of Crimson King