Nature is beautiful, and few things help renew its appeal, like a Northern Virginia spring. The natural world has a calming effect, and many of us seek nature as a tranquil reset to our moods and outlook on life. However peaceful nature may feel, there is conflict amongst plants, and the battle for resources to survive is happening right in your front yard. Many of our natural open spaces are losing their original character due to invasive plant species. Invasive species are trying to beat native plants to the sunlight and water needed to survive. Invasives are species of plants non-native to the land under consideration, and this month, we want to bring attention to one that you may not know is not indigenous to our region, the Norway maple.
The Norway maple is a large deciduous tree that can grow up to approximately 40-60 feet tall. This shallow-rooted tree produces a great deal of shade, making it difficult for grass and other plants to flourish beneath it. Additionally, they have many seeds causing a spread to invade forests and forest edges. This plant is tolerant of various growing environments and is a popular tree to plant on lawns and along streets.
Due to the dense canopy of Norway maples, Forest diversity is starting to decline because of the excess shade created by the dense canopy of Norway maples. The root systems also destroy pavement in urban environments, requiring expensive repairs. Other species of flora and fauna, such as insects and birds, may indirectly be affected due to the change in resource diversity and availability.
To prevent the negative impact of Norway maples on our region, we should plant native trees and remove the Norway maple from our landscapes. Red Maple, Oaks, or Basswood are all great native tree alternatives to plant here in Northern Virginia. Give them a try; the native plant life in your yard will thank you for it.