Crimson King Maple Habitat


The 'Crimson King' Norway maple (Acer platanoides 'Crimson King') shade tree is known for its beautiful, colorful foliage. It is found throughout the United States, as it tolerates a variety of soil conditions. While a popular tree in landscape design, its roots and fruit may present some minor problems to the homeowner.

Tree Characteristics

A mature 'Crimson King' Norway maple can reach a height of 35 to 45 feet and a spread, or width, of 25 to 40 feet. The crown is dense and has an oval shape. Foliage is star shaped, with leaves from 4 to 8 inches in length. The leaves are purple or red throughout the growing season, changing to yellow in the fall. Spring flowers are inconspicuous and maroon-yellow in color. The elongated fruit is brown or green and approximately 1 to 3 inches in length.


The 'Crimson King' Norway maple is hardy in USDA Zones 3B through 7 (found from the U.S. border with Canada and south to the Carolinas). Light requirements range from full sun to partial shade. It is tolerant of most soil conditions, including clay, loam, sandy, acidic and alkaline soils. It grows best in well-drained soil and will tolerate moderate drought conditions.

Urban Adaptability

The 'Crimson King' is valued for its urban adaptability characteristics, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. This includes its shade tolerance, ability to adapt to a wide variety of soils, drought tolerance, and tolerance of coastal conditions as well as of ozone and sulfur dioxide air pollution. All of these factors make it an excellent choice for the urban environment. It is often planted as a shade or specimen tree in urban settings. It is also used as a planting in parking lot islands as well as highway median strips.

Fruit Problem in an Urban Setting

The fruit is not a litter or maintenance problem. However, the fruit does attract a variety of birds. This factor should be taken into consideration when choosing a planting site for this tree. Bird droppings can be messy and cause a problem; avoid planting the tree near decks, swings or benches.

Root System and the Urban Habitat

The 'Crimson King' maple has a shallow root system; the roots are near the surface of the soil. These shallow/surface roots compete with lawn grasses for water and nutrients. They are also capable of lifting up cement, hence they should not be planted in close proximity to a sidewalk or driveway. The shallow roots can also make mowing the grass underneath the tree difficult.

Keywords: crimson king maple, habitat hardiness zone, tree characteristics urban

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.