The sycamore is a non-native but naturalised species that was probably introduced to the UK in the Middle Ages. Mature trees can grow to 35m and can live for 400 years. Sycamore trees can be planted in large gardens and look good as well as providing a useful wind-break. They are very tolerant of pollution and so work well in towns and cities.

Growing Sycamore:

Sycamore is one of the fastest growing deciduous trees in the UK. This makes it a good choice for landscaping in an exposed location or in a large wildlife friendly garden. You will not have to wait too long to make a mature tree.

Sycamore seeds are known as 'helicopters' due to their winged appearance and how they look as they fall. Seeds self-set rather easily, though some people will choose to go for the quicker and easier option and just buy a sapling for use in their garden. As usual you should remove weeds from the planting site and dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root ball. Plant any sapling at the same depth in the soil that it was at in the pot.

Sycamore trees are hardy and robust trees that will grow in most locations throughout the UK, so they could be a good choice for sites that may be problematic for other species. They provide shade and all-round interest. As a wind-break and salt-tolerant plant they are useful for coastal planting and will also provide wind-breaks around residential locations in wilder regions. Sycamore tolerate high pH or calcareous soils, pollution or light shade so could be one of the most useful trees in difficult places.

Why grow sycamore in the garden?

If you have a difficult spot in which to establish planting, sycamore could be the tree for you. If you wish to establish a wildlife-friendly garden sycamore trees are also a good choice. This tree has an important ecological role, even though it is a non-native tree species as it accommodates a range of insect, bird and animal life.

Sycamores are attractive to aphids and so can keep them from other crops. This also makes them a good habitat to encourage predatory insects like ladybirds and hoverflies. Bees and other pollinating insects like the flowers, the leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of a number of moths and the seeds are eaten by birds and a number of small mammals.

Wood from sycamore trees is used to make furniture or musical instruments. It is also used in making kitchenware and was once used to make milk pails as the wood imparts no flavour and does not taint the food. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Acer pseudoplatanus