Montag, 19. September 2011

Plant of the Day (September 19th, 2011) - Acer pseudoplatanus L.

This time I've a new tree for you. It's Acer pseudoplatanus L. from the Sapindaceae family. In English, this plant is known as “Sycamore” or “Sycamore Maple”, while in German it's called “Berg-Ahorn (Mountain Acer). The Latin name “pseudoplatanus” refers to the similarity of the leaves towards the leaves of the American plane (Platanus occidentalis L.).
A. pseudoplatanus - habitus

It a big tree, which can reach heights between 8 and 30 metres (26.2 feet to 98.4 feet). The bark is smooth, but individual pieces fall from the tree like scales. The leaves are the typical five-lobed, digitate maple leaves, with an irregularly notched or serreated edge. They've a dark green dorsal site and a bright green ventral site. The leaves follows the opposite leaf-pattern with two leaves per node. They also have a long stalk, which is green or sometimes red.

A. pseudplatanus - leaves

A. pseudoplatanus - leaf

The inflorescences are hanging panicles. The monoicous flowers are yellow or yellowish green. Typical for this tree are its winged, ripe fruits, which fly with the wind like a helicopter. This kind of dispersal is called Pterometeorochory

A. pseudoplatanus - fruits

A. pseudoplatanus is native to Europe and Asia. It's the most common species of the Genus Acer in Europe. It's a fast growing, undemanding tree, that can grow on slopes, ruderal wasteland or regosols. This makes A. pseudoplatanus an important pioneer plant. Its fallen leaves rot quickly and produce a good humus, which can be used by other plants. Its deep, straight root loosens also hard soils. This species benefits also from human influence. The man spreads the kind on places, where it can grow without the pressure of higher competitive species (e. g. in cities, parks or forests).

A. pseudoplatanus - bark

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