Why do people confuse Crimson King Maple with Red Maple?

dlenartJuly 25, 2007


I just bought an October Glory Red Maple and everybody I tell thinks it is the Maple Tree with the Dark Burgandy / Maroon Leaves (Crimson King Norway).

I try to tell them that Red Maples aren't like that. They have dark green leaves with red veins and stems, which also have flowering in the spring and in the fall they are breathtakingly beautiful. Everybody insists that they right saying the Crimson King is a Red Maple. Have I been misinformed?

I have also Heard that Norways have shallow root systems and cause problems for people who like to maintain nice healthy lawns?



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Both have shallow roots that will make the lawn thing tough directly beneath the tree. Other than that you're right and the peopel that can't seem to get it down that Crimson King is a pretty way of saying crummy invasive pest plant. Not to be confused with October Glory... fastest growing red maple with great form and long lasting fall color. The trees are nothing alike.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:34PM
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I quickly learned that when I worked in a nursery. A customer would walk in and ask for a "red maple" so I would show take them to them. Them being the Acer rubrum. More often than not, they would say "that's not it" and point to the red-leaved Norway maples. My other favorite was when a customer wanted a pine tree. I learned to ask what kind of pine tree because the answer was most often a Colorado Blue Spruce.

So no, you have not been misinformed. October glory is an Acer rubrum, which are commonly called Red Maples. I would assume that people just call Crimson King Norway Maples "Red Maples" because they know it is a maple and it is red.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:36PM
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Silly thing is, 'Crimson King' isn't red, it's a sort of nasty purplish-black. The sort of colour that sucks all the light out of a place. Or just sucks, period.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:09PM
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treeguy123(AL 7b)

The two look nothing alike. Crimson King has dark purple leaves all summer and each leaf has a distinct shape with many pointed lobes in a circle.
October Glory has green leaves all summer which it usually has three main pointed lobes. See the pictures below.

Here is pictures of (Acer platanoides ÂCrimson KingÂ)

And here is pictures of (Acer rubrum ÂOctober GloryÂ)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:43PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it seems it might be a problem of peeps not using proper nomenclature ..... noting one is a platanoides and the other a rubrum ....

expand your circle of friends to include those who use proper nomenclature.. and you will find the peeps [people] who know the difference between the two trees ... in other words.. the peeps who use the right words to describe trees ....

i spent years being too stubborn to learn the Latin names of plants .. and it wasn't really until i met the world wide web .. and a slew of peeps from all over the world.. when i realized the proper descriptive words really make it easier for people who barely speak the same language to communicate about a specific plant .. like resin and that English he uses... lol..rotf ...


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 8:36AM
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I saw some Scarlet Sentinel platanoides at a nusery and the leaves were red/violet and this was not in autumn, but my understanding is this is a î of either red or freeman maple which is actually not a red leaved tree.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:26AM
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christine_zone5(zone 5 MI)

Why does everyone think a Crimson King is ugly, or a bad tree? I have one in my large front yard and I think it is beautiful. Its contrasting color to my Sunset Maple and Sugar Maple, I think, makes it a "stand out" tree in my yard.

Just curious.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:56PM
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People are with trees the same as they are with tomato plants, Christine. They find those they like for a particular reason and would rather fight than change their opinion. I enjoy a purple or red foliaged tree here and there but they are misused and abused in good landscape plantings so many plant professionals learn to dislike them early on.

The Norway group can be awesome trees. They have about them certain characteristics, however, making them not desirable in many locations. The more one deals with trees, the more they look at the cultural aspects of each species and appreciates their virtues and dislikes their shortcomings. Norway maples have a lot of issues. I agree with you that they do stand out. I had one in the front yard at a former property and it was a very "hoggish" tree. It devoured the whole garden to the detriment of every other living plant. Forget about even thinking about grass under the huge canopy and even if it would grow, you'd break a mower on the roots. They can also, being an introduced non-native species, take over native woodlots. But, it was, awesome.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 3:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

FYI .. i hate maples.. because i grow hosta under trees .... maples will choke out EVERYTHING .. including the greatest weed known to mankind .. grass .... especially norway ...

in my world.. there is a place for everything ... maples belong in parks.. in arboretums ... in the neighbors yard ... but personally i hate them

bottom line.. who cares what i think ... if you just want.. a tree.. shade.. and some lawn ... put it maples... if you have plans to do things under your trees .... find a much better tree ... that doesn't litter the yard with helicopters in spring ... sends out invasive, surface roots .. and.. etc.. i digress ...


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 4:17PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have an incursion of Acer platanoides on my lot, it is VERY invasive here, not just in terms of the number of seedlings that grow but also the density and spread of its canopy. I've heard that the Crimson King Norway is not as invasive as the species. Does anyone know if that's true?

I have three very large maples - Acer saccharum (Sugar maple), Acer saccharinum (Silver maple), and Acer platanoides (Norway maple) located south-southwest of my house. They are ALL difficult to grow under. They all suck up the moisture where ever their roots spread. The Silver maple is the worst for gnarly invasive roots that protrude above the soil surface which are invading the pipe going out to the septic system.

I am trying to grow a few perennials under the Sugar maple, but the only thing growing robustly under the other two are Orange ditch lilies and Vinca minor.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:25PM
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krazyaroider(Hamburg, NY 14075 Zone 6)

I had two plain green Norway/Acer platanoides that were cut down and the lawn is much more vigorous and filling in.
I like the small maples like paperbark and Japanese, but dislike large maples due to their "selfish" tendencies!!!
I personally think they are nice looking trees ...in someone else' s yard that is across town!!!
Silver (soft) Maples too, are an sorry excuse for a shade tree along with Norway Maples.
I always wondered about those people who got the red maple and the purple maple confused as they are totally different tree species in the same family - guess I know my trees too well!!!!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 8:59AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

The ignorant/uneducated layman tends to equate leaf color with nomenclature - it's "the maple with red leaves" so it's a RED maple, just like it's a yellow marigold. Explaining that the name arises from the color of the flowers in the spring is more likely to elicit the wondering comment "you mean maples have flowers?"..... Basic botany seems to have escaped most people. About the best that can be said is that they are trying, albeit in several senses of the word!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 10:03AM
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"the name arises from the color of the flowers in the spring"

Must admit I thought it was from the leaves in autumn!


    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Well, I may be wrong, and you may be right, Resin, but that's what I was told years ago, and the flowers are VERY red. It's one of the earliest trees to flower, too.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Don't forget... Liquid Amber
"I got me some liquid amber trees because the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. Yeehaw."

What they don't know is that the leaves usually turn red, orange or purple if they don't drop green. And Liquid amber refers to the resin which isn't necessarily yellow either. (Can be clear or red)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 2:50PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

www.metromaples.com - the owner has shantung maples everywhere along with japanese maples and azaleas so it doesn't sound like shantung maple roots are all that agressive like norway maples and others.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 6:17PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

>"the name arises from the color of the flowers in the spring"
>Must admit I thought it was from the leaves in autumn!

I think it is the flowers. Not all red maples are red in the fall, but they all have, as far as I have seen, brilliant red flowers in the spring.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 11:00PM
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This is true, the red stems and red flowers are pretty much a guarantee but fall foliage is not necessarily red. Escpecially on species trees in the wild.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:17AM
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I hope I did not make a big mistake in purchasing a tree. This season I purchased an 8 foot October Glory Red Maple and put it in my front lawn between the sidewalk and the street. Now I am renovating my front lawn with a very expensive Blue Grass. Am I wasting my money on expensive grass seed, since it is impossible to grow grass around a Maple? However, I do have a 40 year old Honey Locust in the back Yard. It is huge and some roots are on the surface, but I can still grow grass around it, just need to water it a little more around there is all. I love my Honey Locust!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 10:00PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

dlenart, i have seen decent lawns under maples even in our dry climate.However, Maples are water and nutrient hogs and case dense shade, both are not conductive to turf establishment. Not impossible, but it is far more possible that you will get substandard results and bare patches when the tree is large enough. Honey Locust are much better for turf, they are not as aggressive with their root systems and cast light shade that benefits turf in the heat of summer. Maples cast too much shade often, (but not always) and cannot be compared to honeyloucsts as far as turf is concerned.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 9:09PM
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And some people call Populus alba 'silver maple.' My father insists it's a maple because the leaves are maple-like in shape. And he cannot accept that Boxelder, Acer negundo, is a maple.

It's the leaves.

BTW, I flummoxed by the 'red' application to ANY Acer plantanoides selections. None are red, ever. I would call them 'Leathery brown maples.'

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 11:00AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

People think Crimson King is a "red" maple because that's what nurseries tell them.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 10:47AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

"And some people call Populus alba 'silver maple.' "

I have seen that too. Even as a kid I was a "tree guy" and could identify most trees. At age 10 I remember arguing with my aunt that what she thought was a silver maple was a Poplar, and what she thought was a sugar maple actually WAS a Silver Maple...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 10:53AM
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grinder12000(4 now 5 I guess)

"People think Crimson King is a "red" maple because that's what nurseries tell them."

And landscapers!!

We have an Autumn Blaze Maple and our neighbors were getting landscaping (new area).

Talking to the head guy he says he is putting in two Red Maples. I say that's nice as the color will be great in teh fall (I think).

To my surprise in pops two Crimson King Norways!

Personally I like them, as long as the are not on MY yard.

They certainly are not uncommon and are something different besides green green green.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 12:55PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Norway maple and other pest species still prevalent among mass production nurseries need to be phased out. Even here with our perhaps unsuitable dry summers I have seen local sites where there are substantial infestations of Acer platanoides. One park must have about a million of them.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 3:08PM
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If it was up to me, Norway maples (along with all other non-native seeding trees) would be banned.

I'll never understand the fascination with these brown leaved monstrosities, they're like the Lada of the tree world. Red maples (Acer rubrum) are superior in every way (growth habit, spring colour, summer colour, fall colour, less dense, they're native etc.)

I shouldn't be so hard on the layman when most nursery workers have no clue what they're talking about. Unless you fully understand growth habit, growth rate, cultural requirements, and ultimate height and spread, chances are you'll choose the wrong tree. Do your homework.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:33AM
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