Comparing Norway Maple to Hard Maple

Strictly speaking, Norway Maple is its own species, not classified as either Hard Maple or Soft Maple. However, it can occasionally yield some nice wood.February 17, 2012

I get a lot of yard trees from local tree service companies and city foresters. A lot are Norways, which have the leaves of a hard maple but grow very fast. I know it's a hybrid, but the lumber is just as heavy and dense as hard maple. Should I sell as "hard maple"?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Hard maple is defined as sugar maple and black maple only. Likewise, it is not a soft maple. It is a species unto itself. It is not a hybrid. It is a native tree of Europe that was brought over to the USA and since has been prolific and is considered a weed species as the tree in the forest creates a dense canopy that retards sprouting of understory trees, plus other undesirable features.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. When customers ask, is Norway similar to hard maple? Density feels similar in production.

From contributor T:
I always let the client know the exact species. 99% of them like that.

Norway maple matches hard sugar maple very well, but there are grain differences, faint but there, so subtle many people will never notice. Many times I cannot tell. Once in a while there are slight brown flecks which are more common in soft maple varieties.

I have had several nice Norway maple butt logs over the years. They tend to be a branchy tree growing in open areas. I have seen them naturalized in the woods, but still good logs from this tree are uncommon in the northeast. I remember an old local guy named Simmie Again of Lambertville, NJ who had some 20-25" wide flitches of this wood filled with tight big knots - it was nice material. It is slightly softer than hard maple, but exact density I do not know.