The trees at Keele

We have over 150 species of tree on campus, not counting the 240 species and varieties of Flowering Cherry! Amongst them are many of our common native species as well as some more unusual ones. So, if you can't tell a Beech from a Birch or just want to know a bit more about them then read on!

Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus

Sycamore trunk and flower

Origin: a native of central and southern Europe, it was probably introduced to the UK by the Romans. It is now well and truly established; seeding freely - perhaps too freely for many conservationists - for it can edge out native species from natural habitats.

Sycamore tar spot If allowed to grow freely it can become greatly domed with massive lower branches and in isolation can grow into a magnificent tree. Some people liken the shape to a head of broccoli! The bark is greyish to begin with but soon breaks up into squares which later curl up at the edges.

‌The leaves are five-lobed and dark green. The black spotting, which is often found on leaves later in the year, is characteristic of Sycamore. It is caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum or " tar spot" which seems only to attack only Sycamores. Autumn colour is poor, the leaves turning brown and dead-looking.

Sycamore leaf and seed

Fruit: it has a typical maple-type winged fruit but the angle between the two wings is about 90 degrees - unlike Norway Maple where the wings are almost in line.

Uses : having a very fine grain and the fact that it doesn't stain or taint food, it was popular for making kitchen surfaces and utensils, for textile rollers and it is popular with violin makers too.

Location : Widely spread around campus. A particularly nice tree can be found between Lennard-Jones labs and Visual Arts square J7, compartment 55a.