The Crimson King Norway Maple
Although it is styled in a way that might make you assume The Crimson King Norway Maple is a Sugar Maple tree, it is not. So, if you try to tap this tree to get Maple Syrup you won’t. All you’ll get is a milky latex substance that is less than satisfying. The Crimson Maple is a Norwegian Maple tree, a tree that is found mostly in the cooler moister areas of the northeast United States and in the New England states and Canada. It is a very nice shade tree that grows to be around 45 feet or so upon its maturity with dense clustering leaves and branches that fan out along a single stout gray trunk that will many times turn blackish. Like most other trees in the maple family, the Crimson Maple is a shallow rooted tree that combined with its dense canopy of leaves makes it a strong competitor for plant resources. This is a point to keep in mind if the Crimson Maple is in a group of other plants or trees you are planting. In the fall, Norwegian Maples like the Crimson King have a yellow fall color that appears two to three weeks later that the sugar maples.
The Crimson Maple is a very slow growing tree that can be expected to reach the same size as other Norwegian Maples in about 35 – 40 years. The tree has leaves that are five-lobed, are sharp pointed, and have long-petioled leaves that reach 5 inches and that are very wide. The leaves also have a deep maroon color that persists throughout the growing season. If the leaves are ever removed from the stems, several dots of white latex sap will be visible. This characteristic along with the thicker texture of the Norway Maple’s leaf is an easy way to differentiate this species from it tastier cousin the sugar maple, which has a very similar leaf structure and size.
A Distinct And Durable Tree
Another telling distinction is that the Crimson King completely lacks a fall color. The leaves while briefly turning yellow will change from their normal maroon color to a singed looking gray-black as fall progresses into winter. For all its benefits the Crimson King Norway Maple is a much-maligned tree. Part of the reason for this is because of the spread in the 1940s and 50s of Dutch Elm disease. This disease completely devastated the elm tree population and when there was a scramble to replant a species to restore the shade trees that were devastated by this disease the tree that was picked was the Crimson King Norway Maple. This tree was chosen partly because it was faster growing than its cousin the sugar maple.
The Crimson King is only one of several maroon leafed Norwegian Maples but it is by far the most common. It is best used as a standalone ornamental in a landscape setting because of its tendency to crowd out other competitors. This can be mitigated somewhat by pruning the lower limbs of the Crimson King so that the first limbs are at least 8 feet off the ground. If this is done even a Bermuda grass lawn will manage to thrive under this tree as long as the lawn is irrigated. Crimson King Norway Maple trees are not very drought tolerant so leaf scorch is common in the south.
To help with this wrapping the trees trunk during the first two years of planting will reduce the likelihood of sun-scalding the tree’s trunk. Remember for the best in Canadian shade trees and evergreens in the Greater Toronto Area think Caledon Treeland.