Purple Sycamore

Highfield Park Tree Trail: Number 11

Latin/Botanical Name: Acer purpurem

Range: Native to south-east Europe and western Asia now naturalised throughout UK.

Height: to 35m (and often as broad as it is tall)

Uses: Mostly planted as an ornamental in parks and large gardens, tolerant of pollution and wind, so often planted in coastal and exposed areas, as a wind break. Timber is hard, strong, pale cream and fine grained. Used for furniture and kitchenware as the wood does not taint or stain the food.

Description: a variation of the sycamore it is a large domed deciduous tree, widely spreading with flaky greyish brown bark. Leaves have three to five lobes and open burgundy-purple, maturing to green with purple undersides. Flowers are inconspicuous, it produces two-winged fruits, known as samaras, which drop from the tree in helicopter fashion.

Interesting fact: The botanical name of sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus, means ‘like a plane tree’. Although sycamore is an Acer and not closely related to plants in the Platanus genus, the leaves are superficially similar.