Sycamore Maple - Acer pseudoplatanus

The Sycamore Maple tree (species: Acer pseudoplatanus) is a member of the Maple tree family and occurs naturally in Europe and Southwestern Asia. The images in this blog were taken of a tree in Spain. The scientific name "Acer pseudoplatanus" is composed of two latin names. The first "Acer" means Maple and identifies the genus to which this tree belongs. The second part "pseudoplatanus" means "false Plane" or "false Sycamore". This is a reference to the fact that this tree can be easily confussed with "Sycamore" trees in the genus "Platanus". The "London Plane", for example has very similar leaves to the Sycamore Maple.

Above - detail of the Sycamore maple flower. Below - detail of the leaf and branch.

This tree can be easily identified as a Maple by its winged seeds (called samaras). Each seed has a "wing" that is about 1-1.3 inches long and is paired with another seed. These pairs in turn a grouped in a cluster of about 15-30 pairs. They are green at first and then turn a tan colour when mature. The wings help these seeds be dispursed by wind action.

Another way to tell the difference between the Sycamore Maple and the true Sycamore or Plane tree is by the bark. True Sycamores and Planes have a smooth bark that peels off in large sections.
The image below is of an old drawing of this tree species.
Other Maples that I have blogged about are...
Vine Maple
Big Leaf Maple
Red Maple
Boxelder Maple
Montpellier Maple


  1. Thanks for the clarification. I have long been confused and irritated by hearing my lovely tree described variously as an Acer, Sycamore and Maple.

  2. kugoggio@gmail.comJune 3, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Does a Maple sycamore leaf out with a reddish green leaf that turns to a bit more of a darker green leaf soon after?

  3. You might be referring to the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) that has several cultivars that have dark red to purple colored leaves. One of these is called "Crimson King" and another is "Schwedleri".

  4. Which species of maple tree has a single winged seed?

  5. I don´t think any Maples have a single winged seed. There are some other tree species that have single winged seeds however (or at least seeds that look very similar to Maple winged seeds). The "Tree of Heaven" and Ash trees have winged seeds.

  6. I've been trying to identify a local tree on Cape Cod, MA, which I think is a Sycamore maple. It's suckers have leaves which are 10" to 14" in width.

  7. At what point in the scientific classification are the Maples related to the Sycamores? At the Order level or higher still?

  8. They are not in the same Order. The American Sycamore is in the order "Proteales" and Maple trees or in the order "Sapindales". Both of these tree families are "Angiosperms".

  9. Is this tree any good for making maple syruy?

  10. Can this species have a black trunk when juvenile? for example growing in a grove of many young trees?

  11. We have many sycamore trees that were under 4 feet of ocean water during the hurricane last November. Now there are no leaves in many of the trees. Were they all killed by the ocean water? How do you tell when a sycamore is dead?

    1. cut it down and see if it is alive then nail it back togeather

  12. Thanks! finally found what i was wanting! I dug up a tree years ago and planted it in my yard it is now So Big and Beautiful! But i never knew the name of it! I knew that it produced little heliocopters in the fall.And the shape is just wonderful! All of the climbing limbs! Perfect for the kids to climb on! This web sight gave me just what I wanted after looking at several! Perfect! Thanks agin for just making it easy!