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Norway Maples are considered an invasive tree in my area. I've got a very large, mature-looking specimen in my yard and while it looks quite lovely I know it only supports a tiny fraction of the insect life a native tree of similar size would. Since I'm trying to use my yard to support the ecosystem a la Homegrown National Park, this is a big concern for me. On the other hand, removing a large tree is very expensive... and I'm not sure whether having any mature tree, even an invasive one, is better for the micro-habitat that is my yard than waiting decades for a replacement native tree to reach the same size.

I'm wondering whether it's better to...

  1. Leave it, and hope it dies on its own soon (one arborist I spoke to said they have a tendency to girdle themselves and die young, but I don't know whether that's true when they aren't planted as street trees) knowing it could take decades to go
  2. Take the nuclear option and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get it removed, then immediately replace it with a nice oak sapling
  3. Perform arboreal euthanasia by inoculating it with oyster mushrooms and letting them turn it into a nice dead snag. I imagine it'll be more use to the ecosystem dead than alive, but I don't know if I risk the mushrooms spreading to the (native) maples nearby and harming them too.
  4. Some other option I haven't thought of???
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  • Do you have the space for an additional tree? May 19 at 6:30
  • Yes, though not a big one. There are several other large trees nearby in the yard already though May 19 at 10:53

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This is always a dilemma, as any mature tree provides a lot of habitat, be it native or not - but it also takes up space that could be used by something even better and produces masses of seeds to spread further. You mention cost as one barrier to taking it out: if it is in a place where you don't mind having a standing dead tree you could kill it at no cost by ring barking it - i.e. by removing a few inches of the bark and sapwood all the way around. Standing deadwood is important wildlife habitat, but it would no longer seed itself or shade out your oak. You could inoculate it with oysters if you wanted: they will not spread to healthy live trees.

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There are two other arguments in favor of removing it:

  1. It has been thought that Norway maple may be allelopathic, but there has been no scientific confirmation that they produce chemicals to inhibit growth of other plants around them. That said if you look at stands of Norway maples you'll find very little else growing in or around them. In my observations they tend to reduce species diversity dramatically, both in plants and the animals/insects that rely on those plants.

  2. Norway maples tend to be relatively short lived (at least in the NE United States) and are notoriously weak and fracture in storms. I would not want one anywhere near anything that could be damaged or hurt by giant branches falling.

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