Content Detail

Sycamore maple can be used as a street tree and as a shade tree. The dangling clusters of small yellow flowers are slightly showy in spring. This non-native species provides no fall color.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Maple)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Aceraceae)
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-60 feet
  • Mature width 35-60 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Yellow
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Moderate
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Sycamore maple is native to Europe and Asia.

Bark color and texture: 

Bark is gray, with a flaky quality that reveals the inner bark, giving the trunk a slightly mottled look.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The simple leaves  are in pairs (opposite). They are 3 to 6 inches long, with toothed margins. The five-lobed leaves are dark green in summer with little to no fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Small, fragrant, pale yellow flowers in upright clusters. Clusters will start to hang as the fruit begins to develop. Inconspicuous by themselves, but somewhat showy when the whole tree is in flower.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Fruit are winged seeds in pairs (samaras), with each wing being 1 to 2 inches long. The two wings are spread at a sixty degree angle. Initially green, they mature to brown. The fruit hang in dangling clusters.

Plant care:

Avoid pruning in early spring as maples are ‘bleeders’ and will lose large amounts of sap. Sycamore maple tolerates a range of conditions.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Verticillium wilt (fungus) is a potential serious problem. Cankers are common.

Eskimo Sunset sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Esk Sunset’):

New leaves open orange-pink and then mature to deep green with splotches of cream and pink. Undersides of the leaves are purple.


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