(Acer pseudoplatanus)

leaf - upper surface
Upper surface

leaf under surface
Under surface

winter twig
Winter twig



distribution map

The leaves are opposite, 7-16 cm long, with 5 coarsely-toothed lobes. They are green and hairless above, paler and hairy only on the veins below. The leaf-stalks, 10-20 cm long, are often red.

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Sycamore is an introduced deciduous tree, with a stout trunk. It grows up to 35 m in height and has a massive, rounded outline and dense foliage. The grey bark is fissured and turns pinkish-brown with age. It was originally planted but is now widely naturalized from seed in woods, plantations and hedgerows.

Sprays of yellowish-green, 5-petalled flowers hang downwards, appearing with the leaves in May.

The join between the 2 winged fruits or 'samaras', each 3.5-5 cm long, forms a right-angle, or less.

The leaves may be blotched by a fungus called 'tar spot', which is harmless.


  • The creamy-white wood is used for furniture-making, veneers and in musical instruments.

  • The foliage is very tolerant of salt-laden winds, hence it is the most successful planted tree in Outer Isles like Orkney and Shetland.

  • It is native of the mountains of Central and Southern Europe introduced to Britain many centuries ago.

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