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Norway Maple vs Red Maple

Norway maple and red maple are easy to distinguish at any time of year. They are mainly confused due to being common and often occurring in the same habibat, especially around humans.

Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

A shade-tolerant tree native to Europe and Western Asia. Widely used as a landscape plant, and has become invasive in North America in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest.
The most abundant tree species in North America, and a habitat generalist, native to a wide range across the eastern part of the continent.
Leaf lobes pointed, but leaf margins smooth between points. Leaves much broader and often darker in color.
Photo © Andrew Conboy, CC BY 4.0.
Leaf margins serrated. Serrations fine and irregular. Leaves often much smaller.
Photo © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada / Cape Breton / Cap-Breton, Public Domain.
Samaras large, green, horizontally-inclined while hanging, form long after tree is leafed out.
Photo © Andrew Conboy, CC BY 4.0.
Samaras smaller, bright red, more downward-oriented, and well-formed by the time the tree leafs out.
Photo © Katja Schulz, CC BY 4.0.
Terminal buds brown. Side buds much smaller than terminal buds and held closely against twigs.
Photo © Quinten Wiegersma, CC BY 4.0.
Buds red. Side buds as large as terminal buds and project conspicuously out from twigs.
Photo © Ben Armstrong, CC BY 4.0.
Flowers later, while leafing out. Flowers greenish yellow, in larger clusters held slightly farther from twigs.
Photo © Katja Schulz, CC BY 4.0.
Flowers early, before leafing out. Flowers vibrant red with some yellow, in small clusters close to twigs.
Photo © Mark, CC BY 4.0.
Stems exude a milky sap when cut or plucked.
Photo © Michael Ellis, CC BY 4.0.
No milky sap.
Photo © , .
Fall color usually a uniform yellow, rarely red. Turns color late.
Photo © Katja Schulz, CC BY 4.0.
Fall color variable but often vibrant red. Turns color earlier.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.