Maple sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is a deciduous tree that belongs to the Sapindaceae family. It is native to China, Japan, and Korea but got planted in the United States since the 1700s. The name stems from the tree’s likeness to sycamores (Platanus) prevalent in the eastern United States. However, the two are unrelated.
Maple sycamore and sycamore (Platanus) get misidentified for their leaves. It is because of their leaves’ shape. The leaves of both trees are similar, but the sycamore has heart-shaped leaves while those of the sycamore maple is more oval-shaped. Get to know more about the maple sycamore in this post.
Sycamore Maple Growth Rate
Sycamore maple trees begin growing fast when young, slowing down as they mature. A sycamore maple can grow more than 1 foot per year during its first three years, but growth slows to about 1 inch per year.
Sycamore maple trees may grow between 4 and 6 feet per year for their first ten years, depending on soil quality and weather conditions. Because sycamore maple trees grow fast at first, they need plenty of room for expansion as they age. Sycamore maple trees prefer moist soil and sunlight, but they can tolerate drought conditions once they reach maturity.
Sycamore maple trees are easy to manage; they don’t require much maintenance once they get established. This species doesn’t grow well in areas that get below freezing temperatures during the winter months because they don’t tolerate freezing temperatures well.
The Lifespan of the Sycamore Maple
The lifespan of a Sycamore Maple tree varies with each tree. Some trees may only live for ten years, while others can live as long as 150 years or more. However, most trees live between 50 and 100 years before dying naturally from old age or disease.
Factors that Affect the Lifespan of the Maple Sycamore
- Soil quality
The age of the tree directly affects its life expectancy. Older trees are more likely to develop heartwood rot and other diseases than younger trees. However, there are some things you can do to extend the life of your tree if it is older than 30 years old.
The location where you grow your maple sycamore affects how long it will live. If it gets planted in areas with high winds or heavy snowfall, it will not be able to withstand these conditions well and may die sooner than expected.
You need to ensure the absence of toxins or pollutants in your soil before planting your new seedling or cutting from an adult maple sycamore tree. The presence of toxins or pollutants will degrade root tissue, eventually killing all of your tree’s rootlets and branches.
The climate where you live affects how long your tree will live. For example, if you live in an area with cold winters and hot summers, your tree might not live as long as one that lives in a milder climate with milder seasons.
Heights of the Sycamore Maple
Sycamore maple trees are among the few trees that can grow over 100 feet tall. They have a fast growth rate and can reach full maturity in as little as 15 years. The average height of these trees is about 60 feet, with a spread of about 40 feet.
The Flowering of the Sycamore Maple
Early spring is the time to watch for the flowering of the sycamore maple. The flowering occurs before any leaves appear on its branches. Flowers get borne on short stalks that grow from buds formed on branches during the previous year. Each flower consists of five white petals with yellow centers that open at dawn and close at dusk each day. By late May or early June, the flowers fall off their stalks, and new leaf buds begin to form around them.
The sycamore maple leaves have five to seven lobes, with each lobe further divided into three to five teeth on each side. The leaves are about 3 inches long and have 5 points at the end of the leaf blade. The leaf stalk is hairy, and the underside of the leaf has hairs and tiny glands called resin glands. They turn yellow in autumn before they fall off. The fall color ranges from orange and red to yellow, depending on the climate where it is grown. 1
Uses of the Sycamore Maple
The tree has provided sustenance for both humans and animals. It serves as a building material for houses. Also, it helps with wood products like furniture, flooring, cabinets, and more.
Benefits of the Sycamore Maple
The benefits of having this tree in your yard include:
- Soil enrichment
- Wildlife preservation
The leaves from this tree fall and decompose into rich soil that helps other trees grow better than they would on their own.
The leaves also provide shelter for small animals such as squirrels, birds, rabbits, and more, so they find protection from predators or bad weather conditions like rain or snowstorms.
The Root system of the Sycamore Maple
The root system of the sycamore maple is the main contributor to its overall health and vigor. A tree’s roots grow outward in all directions and can extend to a distance equal to its height. It enables the tree to absorb water, nutrients, and minerals from its surroundings. As they grow, they form a root system complex in design.
This network of roots has three main types:
- The taproot
- The lateral roots
- Underground storage organs
The taproot is a single key root that grows straight down into the soil. It provides stability for the tree during storms or windy conditions. It also helps anchor the tree in place to avoid it falling.
The lateral roots
These branches of roots branch off from the taproot and spread out horizontally in all directions from the base of the trunk. These lateral roots support the tree and anchor it firmly into place. So it doesn’t blow over during storms or high winds. They also allow for water intake from rainfall or irrigation systems.
Underground storage organs
Underground storage organs are parts of plants that store food reserves until other parts of the plant above ground (like leaves) need it.
Pests and Threats of the Sycamore Maple
The tree is susceptible to several pests and diseases. These include:
- Aphids Borers
- Leaf miners
- European green longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)
They are small, sap-sucking insects that can cause leaves to curl, become yellow or brown and fall prematurely from the tree.
Aphids are a species of insect found in various parts of the world that damage crops and other plants. They feed by sucking the sap from plants and other organic substances, and some species are even known to reproduce at an alarming rate with the potential to become an infestation.
These are tiny, stationary insects with sucking mouthparts that attach themselves to plants. They damage plants by sucking sap from sensitive portions like buds and leaves.
Scale is a type of pest found in and around homes and other structures. Scale insects are in the insect order Hemiptera, which includes many plant feeders such as aphids and whiteflies. The most common types of scale insects are armored scales. Armored scales have an outer shell that gives them their name. Other types of scales can be more easily identified because they lack an outer shell or because their shell has a distinctive coloration or patterning.
They are tiny arachnids that feed on the undersides of leaves and cause stippling on the leaf surface. They also produce webbing on branch bark where they overwinter in colonies.
Mites are tiny organisms that come in many different forms, but all mites have one thing in common, they feed on the blood of other organisms. Mites can be anywhere from forests to human homes, and there are even mite species that feed exclusively on animals and plants. They are usually too small to see with the naked eye and require magnification to be seen properly.
European green longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)
This insect damages trees by boring into the bark, creating galleries where it lays its eggs. The larvae feed on sapwood, eventually causing tree death if unchecked by humans or natural predators such as birds or other insects.
The European green longhorn beetle is an invasive pest that was introduced to the United States in the late 19th century and is now found in at least 28 states and Canada. Green longhorn beetles are capable of spreading the infectious tree disease called laurel wilt or killing pine trees by boring into the bark and feeding on the sapwood and cambium layer, which can lead to their death.
It is an invasive pest that feeds on many different kinds of plants and trees in the United States. The larvae burrow into a tree and feed on the tree’s phloem, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients to the leaves and branches. An infestation of this pest can lead to the death of a tree or plant in just a few years.
Barks of the Sycamore Maple
The bark of the Sycamore Maple consists of thin plates that are smooth on top and rough underneath. These plates overlap each other to create a slightly wavy pattern on the trunk of this species of tree. The coloration of these bark plates is typically light brown with darker brown spots. It makes it easy to identify Sycamore Maples in your area by simply looking at the trunks of nearby trees.
Fruits of the Sycamore Maple
The sycamore maple produces a two-winged samara, shaped like an elongated teardrop with wings on either side. The wings on the samara allow it to get carried by the wind and distributed widely over large areas. The samara is very distinct and easy to identify because its color is usually orange or red with a white stripe down the middle. They are a favorite food of many birds and mammals.
Woods of the Sycamore Maple
Sycamore maple is a hardwood often used in the furniture industry. The wood has a fine grain, and it helps with small pieces due to its fragility. It is in different colors, including brown and yellow. The wood is smooth and easy to work on, with an open grain.
It has a reddish-brown color that is attractive as an accent wood. The color can get enhanced by using stains or dyes on the wood’s surface. This type of maple has been popular for centuries because of its beauty and durability.
The light brown color of sycamore maple makes it useful for flooring. However, this type of maple tends to be very soft, so do not use it for high-traffic areas such as kitchen floors or hallways with a lot of foot traffic.
Citations Used in this Article
- Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) (woodlandtrust.org.uk)