©Philip Precey


Scientific name: Acer pseudoplatanus
A tall, domed tree of woodlands, hedgerows and parks, the introduced sycamore is familiar to many of us the 'helicopter' producing tree - its large, winged fruits appearing in autumn.

Species information


Height: up to 35m

Conservation status

Introduced, non-native species.

When to see

January to December


The sycamore is a tall tree of parklands, hedgerows and woodlands. It was introduced into the UK from Europe sometime in the 15th or 16th century, and has become naturalised since, as well as being widely planted. Due to its winged seeds (known as 'helicopters'), which are produced in profusion in mature trees, and its adaptability, it is able to colonise all kinds of habitats, including waste ground.

How to identify

The sycamore is a tall, domed tree of the maple family. Its five-lobed leaves have toothed margins and characteristic red stalks. Its flowers are small, green and hang in spikes, turning to distinctive winged fruits, known as 'samaras'.



Did you know?

The wood of sycamore was commonly used to make kitchen items and toys, and was also the main choice for Welsh love spoons - traditional carved gifts. In times past, a young man would carve the spoon for his love and, if she accepted it, they could begin to court. Today, these spoons are often given as wedding presents. The symbols on love spoons convey different messages, for example, a horseshoe represents luck, a cross is for faith and a dragon offers protection.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.