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The Sycamore

UK Garden Centre - Information about the Sycamore tree

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Family Aceraceae
Acer pseudoplatanus

Known also as The Great Maple or False Plane, the Sycamore is not a native tree, but appears to have been introduced from the Continent in the fifteenth century. It is, therefore, well established among us, and by means of its winged seeds distributes itself to remote corners of our islands. It appears to be fond of exposed situations, growing to a large size even near the sea, where the salt-laden gales would destroy all other deciduous trees.
It grows to a height of sixty or even eighty feet so quickly that it is full-grown when only fifty or sixty years old, though it is supposed to live from 150 to 250 years.
The wood of the Sycamore is firm and fine-grained, and although it can be worked with ease, it is not highly esteemed.
The leaves are heart-shaped and cut into five lobes, whose edges are unequally toothed; they are six or eight inches across. The black patches so frequently seen on Sycamore leaves are the work of a small fungus – Rhytisma acerinum.
The flowers are similar to those of the Field Maple, but larger, and in a long hanging raceme. The “keys” are scimitar-shaped about an inch and a half long, and red-brown in colour. These are produced freely after the tree is about twenty years old.
Like many other Maples, the Sycamore has sap which contains much sugar. Some of this appears also to exude through the leaves.
The Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) is a tree of much more recent (1683) introduction from the Continent. Its height is from thirty up to as much as ninety feet, and its early growth is very rapid. The leaves are even larger than those of the Sycamore, of similar shape, but the lobes are only slightly toothed. The clusters of bright yellow flowers appear before the leaves. The tree does not produce seed until it is between forty and fifty years old.


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