Sycamore (SY)

Acer pseudoplatanus

Native range

Native to mountainous areas of central and eastern Europe; considered naturalised in Britain.

Provenance choice

Material from good quality British stands or selected stands in western Europe should be preferred.

Site requirements

Young regeneration is quite shade tolerant and the species often colonises the understorey of broadleaved woodlands. Cold hardy and tolerant of exposure, salt spray and air pollution, therefore suited to all climatic regions of Britain. Grows on a wide range of soils but does best on deep, fresh to moist free-draining soils of medium to rich nutrient status. It is not suited to heavy clays and poor sandy soils, and does not tolerate waterlogging and flooding and is not drought tolerant.

Pests and pathogens

Various foliar pathogens frequently affect sycamore including leaf spot (Cristularia depraedans) and tar spot (Rhytisma acerinum) but all are considered conspicuous but relatively unimportant. Potentially more damaging are sooty bark (Cryptostroma corticale), Phytophthora and Verticillium wilt. Sooty bark disease becomes evident after episodes of prolonged hot weather, causing partial or total wilting of the crown and mortality. Sycamore is also at risk from bark stripping by grey squirrels.

Pulvinaria regalis (horse chestnut scale) is one of the most conspicuous pests of sycamore, although generally considered to be a problem of trees under stress due to lack of water or nutrients.


In most parts of Britain, the warming climate will result in greater productivity but in eastern areas more prone to drought this species may prove vulnerable.