Sycamore is fast growing and regarded by some as a ‘weed’. It is not a native tree but was introduced from central and south east Europe. It is to be found across the mainland of the U.K.  It is tolerant of ‘sea spray’ and may be planted near the coast. Its heavy leaf fall can mean that the ground flora underneath the tree is limited.


Simple but large leaves. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs around the twigs/stem. 5 distinct lobes to the leaves, 5 veins radiate from the leaf base into the lobes. There is a somewhat ragged edge to the leaf, lots of ‘rounded’ teeth. On the lower surface of the leaf, there are some hairs.

Sometimes the leaves are covered with small, red 'blobs' / projections - these are galls caused by a mite (a small spider-like creature).The female mite lays eggs in these structures.

Buds, Bark and Stem

In younger trees, the bark is smooth and may be a pinkish-grey colour, but as the tree ages it becomes grey and scaly/flaky.

Flowers and Fruits

The flowers appear at the same time as the leaves. They are yellow/green and there are separate clusters of male and female flowers; they are carried on drooping ‘tails’ or tassels. When fertilised, they form winged seeds. These occur in pairs and form a helicopter structure that helps dispersal.


The seed and its wing like structure is sometimes referred to as a ‘key’; botanically speaking - it is a double samara.  The seeds are produced in significant numbers and disperse freely.  In some countries where the sycamore has been introduced, the tree is now regarded as an 'invasive species'.

Winter Twigs