COMMON NAME

Sycamore maple
Planetree maple


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME

Acer pseudoplatanus L.


FAMILY NAME COMMON

Maple family


FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME

Acer pseudoplatanus


IMAGES


Leaves with inflorescence

Close-up of inflorescence

Habit

Leaves and fruit

Incursion

Seedling

Fruit close-up

Bark

NOMENCLATURE/SYNONYMS

Synonyms: None


DESCRIPTION

Botanical Glossary

Acer pseudoplatanus is a tall tree that can reach 30 m (100 ft.) in height. The bark of the tree has irregular scales that often flake off. The palmately veined leaves have a leathery texture, unlike most maples, and are dark green above and lighter green and pubescent on the major veins below. The leaves have 5 lobes, and the two basal lobes are reduced compared to the three middle lobes. The leaf margins are coarsely toothed, but do not have sharp tips. The leaves are 7.5-15 cm (3-6 in.) wide and are cordate at their base. The yellowish-green flowers appear in May and are in pendulous racemes 6-15 cm (2-6 in.) long. The flowers themselves are small, measuring 4-5 mm (0.2 in.) across. The stamens of the flowers are exserted. The samaras measure 3-4 cm (1-1.5 in.) long, and have broad wings that are at angles of 60-90 degrees from each other. Page References Bailey 637, Fernald 985, Flora of North America 359, Gleason & Cronquist 352, Holmgren 332, Magee & Ahles 721, Seymour 379. See reference section below for full citations.


SIMILAR SPECIES

Acer rubrum (L.) (red maple) Picture of Acer rubrum
Acer saccharum (Marsh) (sugar maple)
Acer platanoides (L.) (Norway maple) IPANE Catalog of Species description


REPRODUCTIVE/DISPERSAL MECHANISMS

Acer pseudoplatanus has paired samaras that are wind dispersed.


DISTRIBUTION

Acer pseudoplatanus is native to Europe and western Asia. In the U.S. it is found from Maine to Michigan and south from Kentucky to North Carolina. In New England it is most numerous along the coast, particularly on Cape Cod, coastal Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. So far, it is an uncommon escapee to the inland.


HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND

Acer pseudoplatanus was brought to New England and the Mid-Atlantic region for horticultural purposes, where it was used mostly as a street and park tree. Records from the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Club note its presence in New York and New Jersey as early as 1870. Herbarium specimens at the University of Connecticut record the plant's presence in both Massachusetts and Connecticut at the beginning of the 20th century and indicate that Acer pseudoplatanus was seeding from planted trees. The Flora of New England (1969) lists Acer pseudoplatanus as being present in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND

Abandoned Field,Early Successional Forest,Edge,Open Disturbed Area,Pasture,Roadside,Vacant Lot,Yard or Garden

Acer pseudoplatanus is salt tolerant and shade intolerant, and thus it grows well in exposed, coastal habitats. It is well adapted to soil extremes and is tolerant of pollution, making it a good street tree.


THREATS

Acer pseudoplatanus is capable of producing large numbers of seedlings, giving rise to dense tree stands with the potential for crowding out native tree species.


DOCUMENTATION NEEDS

Documentation required: A specific photograph or mounted snippet of the inflorescence or fruits and leaves.
Best time for documentation: Spring, summer, fall.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species

The PLANTS Database
General information and map

University of Connecticut Plant Database
General information and many photographs

Virginia Tech Dendrology
Description and photographs


REFERENCES

Bailey, L. H.  1949.  Manual of Cultivated Plants.  Macmillan, New York.

Britton, N. L. and A. Brown.  1970.  An Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States vol. 2.  Dover Publications Inc., New York. 

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th ed. American Book Co., Boston.

Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume #3. Oxford University Press. 

Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist.  1991.  Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999.  Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Seymour, F.C. 1969. The Flora of New England. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

USDA, NRCS.  2001.  The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov).  National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.