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Growing the Sycamore Maple - Acer pseudoplatanus


Overview of the Sycamore Maple:

The sycamore maple serves well as a city tree since it tolerates many of the conditions (like pollution) found in urban areas. Since it can tolerate salt, it also can grow in coastal areas. Look for a specific variety like Regal Petticoat™ to make sure you get a better fall display as the original species can be disappointing.

Latin Name:

This maple tree bears the Latin name of Acer pseudoplatanus. The species name means false (pseudo) sycamore (genus name of Platanus.)

Common Names:

You will see sycamore maple, false plane-tree, sycamore, Celtic maple, Scots plane, European sycamore, Scottish maple, mock-plane and great maple used for this species.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

It is suitable for use in USDA Zones 4-7. The native range is western Asia and Europe.

Size & Shape of the Sycamore Maple:

It will usually reach a mature height of 40-60' tall, though sometimes it can be up to 100' tall. It will spread to a width of 40-60', creating a round or oval shape.


For optimal results, plant in full sun. It can also grow in a location that receives a little shade.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit of the Sycamore Maple:

Each leaf is apple green on top and lighter on the bottom. They are three to six inches wide with five lobes. The leaves on this tree stay green or sometimes turn to a yellowish-brown color in autumn.

In the spring, panicles of chartreuse blossoms form. The tree is monoecious.

The fruit is a winged fruit known as a samara that form in drooping clusters on the tree. They are also sometimes called keys or helicopters.

Design Tips For the Sycamore Maple:

If you desire fall colors, you may want to pick another maple species tree, as this tree will usually be green or brown in fall. You can, however, get much better color with some of the varieties. When you plant the 'Brilliantissimum' variety, which features leaves that are pink when they first appear. Over time they change to a green-yellow and finally settle into a darker green. This tree is also smaller than the species, maturing at about 20' tall. 'Tunpetti' (Regal Petticoat™) also has excellent fall foliage colors. The leaves are yellow on top and magenta underneath. The variety will also have shades of salmon, orange and red.

Other varieties with interesting coloring include 'Esk Sunset', 'Atropurpureum', ' Prinz Handjery', 'Prince Camille de Rohan', 'Puget Pink', 'Leopoldii', 'Variegated', and 'Simon Louis Freres'.

This tree can serve well in the urban garden as it can withstand salt, winds and pollution. The salinity tolerance means you can plant this near the coast.

In some areas, this maple species can become invasive. Call your local nursery or extension service to see if it is invasive where you live.

Growing Tips For the Sycamore Maple:

You can grow this tree in soil that is either acidic or alkaline as long as it drains well.


As with all maples, put off any pruning until at least the second half of summer. The sap is especially thin in the spring and cuts may cause it to bleed sap.

Pests & Diseases of the Sycamore Maple:

There are usually no significant problems with pests. You may possibly see:

  • Aphids
  • Catepillars
  • Gall mites
  • Horse chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella)
  • Horse chestnut scale (Pulvinaria regalis)

Possible diseases include:

  • Eutypella canker
  • Nectria canker
  • Powdery mildew (Uncinula bicornis)
  • Tar spots
  • Verticillium wilt
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