Sycamore, sycamore maple
Sycamore, sycamore maple (Eng); falso plátano, arce blanco, arce sicomoro (Spa); fals plàtan, blada (Cat); astigar zuria (Baq); pradairo (Glg); falso-plátano (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The famous Asturian Cabrales cheeses are hand wrapped using sycamore leaves.
A large tree that can be up to 30 m tall with smooth greyish or orangey bark that detaches as small scales with age. The leaves are deciduous, simple, opposite and palmate with 5 lobes that have slightly rounded tips. They are 6-23 cm wide and have a very long stalk, up to 15 cm in length, which is often reddish in colour. The leaves do not secrete latex when cut. In autumn, the leaves generally acquire a golden yellow hue before falling. The inconspicuous flowers have 5 greenish-yellow petals and are grouped into long hanging clusters. The fruits are samaras, or keys, i.e., they have a globose seed with a membranous wing allowing them to be dispersed by the wind. The wings are in facing pairs, forming an angle of 70-110º (sometimes as much as 130º).
It grows in cool, shady zones, and tends to suffer in the heat, particularly if there are prolonged droughts. It can grow on any type of substrate but prefers deep soils. In the Canary Islands, specimens usually appear separately (it almost never forms large groups), in relatively open spots in the humid pine forest. It grows in disturbed land on the midslopes, or medianías.
This species is native to central and southern Europe, although it ranges as far as southwestern Asia. In the Canary Islands, the sycamore has been cultivated as an ornamental and shade tree. It is currently established in the wild on the island of Gran Canaria.