Why is sycamore so invasive?

It’s the time of year when sycamore seedlings start springing up seemingly everywhere. 

The seed is extremely fertile, so sycamore has spread quickly across the UK and colonised many woodlands to the detriment of native species. Helped no doubt by their tolerance of inhospitable conditions such as windy coastal sites, salt-laden air, or industrial pollution.

After pollination by insects, theire greenish yellow flowers develop into the familiar winged seeds, known as samaras (or ‘helicopters’ to generations of schoolchildren!) Autumn winds send the seeds spiralling down from the tree to land on the woodland floor, where, next spring, they will lose no time in sending out sturdy shoots to form a forest of saplings.

Sycamore seedlings
Sycamore seedlings

Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are one of those trees which fall into, out of and back into favour with the passing of time.  They are classed as “non-native”, but they’ve been in the UK for hundreds of years. One thing’s for sure: sycamores seed prolifically!