The sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus, is also known as the sycamore maple, Celtic maple, false plane-tree, great maple, Scottish maple and mock-plane. It is native to central Europe and southwest Asia. This tree has been cultivated, for centuries, in Europe.
The sycamore is a deciduous tree which can successfully grow in United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zones four through seven. University of Connecticut’s horticulture department calls it a medium to tall tree, as it grows up to 40 to 60 feet tall. The sycamore is rounded in shape and is a spreading tree. It has been shown to be invasive in Connecticut. It naturalizes easily in areas away from cultivation.
The leaves are dark-green and leathery. They have coarse serrations and prominent veins along with deep lobes. The undersides of a sycamore leaf are dull green. This tree’s leaves do not change color in the autumn. At times, the fungus Rhytisma acerinum cause the leaves to have black spots or patches.
In the spring, the sycamore produces yellow-green blossoms on panicles that can be up to five inches long. There can be up to 50 blossoms on some stalks. The flowering is followed by the appearance of the seeds. The sycamore seeds are pairs of samaras that can be up to two inches in length. The seeds are shaped like wings that usually form a 60 degree angle. The samaras mature in the autumn when the wings allow them to rotate as they fall. The rotating of the seeds allow them to fall and establish new trees at a distance from the parent tree.
The bark of the sycamore, when mature, will flake. This allows the orange inner bark to be exposed.
Suckers often grow from the roots of the sycamore, after it has fallen. The suckers grow from roots that then become exposed to the sunlight.
Originally, the name sycamore was used for members of the fig tree,sSpecifically the Ficus sycamorus of southwest Asia. Over time the name became common for Acer pseudoplatanus due to a light similarity of the leaves.
The sycamore is able to withstand wind, pollution and salt spray. Because of this, many cities and counties have planted these trees along roads and coastal areas.
In Great Britain, the sycamore is considered a neophyte, which is a plant that is currently naturalized but originally arrived with settlers in 1500 or soon after. There is no record of it in Great Britain before 1487.
In North America escapes from cultivation were recorded in New England, New York and in the Pacific Northwest. It can also be found in New Zealand and in the Falkland Islands.
Due to its lack of aesthetic value it is not often considered in landscape designs. It does have value, however, as a shade tree.
Other than the fungus that marks its leaves, there are not any serious diseases or pests of the sycamore.