Sycamore maple

Érable sycomore

Acer pseudoplatanus L.Sapindaceae (soapberry family)

Origin: Europe


Sycamore maple is a large tree with a domed widely spreading crown.

Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs


Leaves are palmate, the 5 lobes with blunt teeth along the edges.

Read more about Leaves


Flowers are very small, greenish, borne in long drooping clusters.

Read more about Flowers


Fruits are pairs of winged seeds (samaras or maple keys) borne in dangling clusters.

Read more about Fruit


Sycamore maple is a large tree, up to 30 m (98') in height, but likely smaller under urban conditions. Mature trees have a domed, widely spreading crown.

Mature bark is grey with patches of reddish brown or orange in places where the outer bark has peeled away, exposing the inner bark.

Twigs are hairless, green to brown with pores (lenticels). The terminal bud is large, 6 - 8 mm (1/4" - 1/3") long, with green bud scales with dark edges; lateral buds are smaller.

Return to top of page


Leaves are palmately lobed, 9 - 15 cm (3 1/2" - 6") long, with 5 lobes.

Leaves have 5 prominent palmate veins extending to the tips of the 5 blunt-toothed lobes.

Leaves have an opposite arrangement on the branch.

In fall, the leaves turn yellow.

Return to top of page


Flowers are borne in drooping clusters up to 13 cm (5") long.

Flowers are small, greenish, 5 mm (3/16") across, the immature wings of the fruit already visible.

Flowers emerge in spring after the leaves have developed

Return to top of page


Fruits are pairs of winged seeds (samaras also called keys) borne in dangling clusters.

Fruits are 3 - 5 cm (1 1/4" - 2") long and the wings are angled at about 60 degrees.

Fruits mature in September to October, spinning as they fall to the ground.

Return to top of page



Sycamore maple is native to southern and central Europe, and parts of western Asia. Howerver, it has been planted widely as an ornamental tree for centuries and is now naturalized in Great Britain and North America.

Derivation of names

The genus name Acer means sharp, in reference to the pointed tips of the leaf lobes of most maples. The species name pseudoplatanus means false plane-tree or false sycamore, due to some similarities in leaf characteristics between sycamore maple and some trees of the genus Platanus that are known as sycamores.Platanusspecies in Toronto include American sycamore and its hybrid, London plane tree.

Similar species

Despite some similarities in leaf shape, sycamore maples can be readily distinguished from American sycamore and London plane. All maples have opposite leaves and winged fruit (samaras or keys), while American sycamore and London plane have alternate leaves and ball-shaped fruits. All three species have flaking outer bark, however the exposed the inner bark of sycamore maples is orange-brown while that of the Platanus species is cream, grey, and olive giving them a camouflage appearance.

Commercial use

In Europe, sycamore maple is valued as a timber tree, its wood used for wood panelling and to make violins.

Return to top of page

Sycamore maple IN TORONTO

Sycamore maple's place in Toronto's urban forest

Sycamore maple has long been planted in Toronto's parks and can be seen in places like Queen's Park and Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Landscape value and potential for home planting

Sycamore maple is tolerant of various soil conditions as well as for salt. It grows best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

Although sycamore maple can grow in Toronto's climate, it does not thrive here the way it does in the cool, moist climate of Great Britain where it can reach heights of 40m, making it the largest of the maples.

There are several cultivated varieties including some that have been bred for different leaf colours.

Pests and diseases: Sycamore maple may be affected by leaf spots Rhytisma acerinum and by Eutypella canker, which is caused by a parasite (Eutypella parasitica). This canker may manifest as flattened or depressed areas on the bark, or as calluses and decay. An infected tree may live for many years with the canker, but the damage to the wood may ultimately kill the tree.

Return to top of page

WHERE CAN I SEE Sycamore maple?

Find trees on Tree Tour maps at Canadian Tree Tours:

Return to top of page


Return to top of page