The Sycamore Maple tree, Acer pseudoplatanus is a big, fast growing plant that will thrive almost anywhere. It makes a great windbreak tree for exposed coastal sites and is equally happy in the inner city. Fully grown, a Sycamore is a magnificent specimen, rivaling any of our other large native trees. It is one of the best tall trees for a coastal windbreak. It is great for wildlife and every young child (in the days before handheld computer games, at least!) has surely tired themselves out in autumn by throwing the "helicopter" seeds up into air over and over again. Sycamore trees can reach a height of about 35-40 metres.
History & uses of Acer pseudoplatanus
Sycamores aren't strictly native British trees, but they may as well be. Native across Europe and Western Asia, they have been growing wild here for 800 years at the very least. They bear some similarity to the Plane tree and in Scotland they are commonly called Planes, which isn't necessarily confusing because the true Plane tree isn't really grown in the North. The Sycamore's botanical name, pseudoplatanus, means "False Platanus (Plane)".
Like the Plane tree, the Sycamore was one of the few trees that continued to thrive in our polluted, industrial revolution era cities when so many other species gave up and died in the smog. Its strong timber carves beautifully; it is used for indoor furniture and eating utensils. The wood burns well and makes quality charcoal.