Thursday Trees – Sycamore (An Seiceamair)

Although non native, the Sycamore can be found all over Ireland and is widespread and numerous. It was introduced to Ireland during the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The Sycamore is a deciduous tree, whose leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow and brown in autumn before falling. It is often found in hedges and in public parks.

Growing up to 35 m, the Sycamore has a 5-lobed leaf, with toothed edges. A member of the Maple family, its fruit is borne in what all young Irish children call ‘helicopters’.

It can be difficult to distinguish the Sycamore from the Field Maple, another non-native. However, the latter generally has three largish lobes towards the top of its leaf, with two distinctly smaller ones at the bottom. The Sycamore’s lobe sizes are less differential. Also, the Sycamore’s ‘helicopter’ has its wings at angles to eachother, while the Field Maple’s form more of a straight line.

The bark on young Sycamores is quite smooth and grey, but turns scaly and begins to break up on older trees.

Sycamore Leaf

Sycamore Leaf

In recent years, Sycamores in Ireland seem to be subject more and more to the Tar Spot, a black fungus on the leaves.


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