A majestic tree, the sycamore maple is a giant species of maple. In fact, it can grow up to 35 metres in height and its trunk may reach 1 to 2 metres in diameter. It grows at a spectacular rate as a young tree and can grow about 10 metres in only 20 years.
Woodhouse Moor Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire. © Chemical engineer - public domain
The sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) is part of the Sapindaceae family (or Aceraceae). It is also called the "false plane tree", "great maple" or "Scottish maple".
This tree has a slender stalk, with large oblique branches growing from its trunk. Its bark is first smooth and grey, and then turns reddish and progressively darker with age.
Its deciduous leaves are opposed, palmate with five pointed lobes, with obtuse teeth, a long petiole, smooth and dark green on the upper face, sea-green and hairy on the veins of the lower side.
The sycamore maple, or "false plane tree". © Micha L. Reiser - licence Creative Commons Attribution – Share alike 3.0 Unported
This species only flowers when it reaches 20 to 25 years. Its flowers, of a yellow green colour, have five fused sepals, with five petals and eight upright stamens. Flowers are grouped into hanging panicles. Its fruit, samara, consists of two winged seeds that nearly form a right angle, while this angle is narrower among the Norway maple.
This species thrives in mountainous areas, up to 1,500 metres in altitude, but also on the plains, alongside fir trees and beech trees. It is widespread throughout Europe, as well as in Turkey and in the Caucasus region.
This tree needs light and prefers rich and more calcareous soil.
The sycamore maple is grown as an ornamental tree, especially along some roads and in parks. Its wood, which is consistent and hard, is creamy brown with satiny glints, and is suited for use in cabinet making.
Author: Michel Caron