The sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is a large, fast-growing deciduous tree. The natural range of sycamore covers most of Europe, with the exclusion of the most northern parts, and the extreme easterly limit is at the Caspian Sea. Due to its strong invasive properties, the tree has become naturalized far beyond its original range.
The timber is widely used for furniture making and joinery, and is excellent for flooring. It is also used for paper production and firewood. Occasionally, the tree produces wavy grained wood, which is reserved for making the best musical instruments and veneer.
Sycamore is a hardy tree, withstanding exposure and industrial pollution and tolerant to frost and salt-laden winds. These abilities make it useful as windbreak and as an ornamental tree in urban and coastal locations. Furthermore, its strong and adventitious roots make the tree excellent for mitigating soil erosion.
The sycamore thrives in calcareous soils, and requires a permanent and good water supply, but avoids wet soils. It easily germinates and, when young, grows faster than most other European tree species.
Acer pseudoplatanus - Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for sycamorePublication Year: 2003
Genetic conservation aims at ensuring continuous survival and adaptability of the target species. These proposed guidelines reflect the view that sycamore is not considered an endangered species. Sycamore has significant potential for forestry, and its use as a timber resource should be promoted. In most cases this will require intensive management, since on fertile soils sycamore is easily suppressed by beech. If sycamore is regenerated artificially, special attention should be given to the choice of seed source. For gene conservation, a low intensity in situ conservation approach is recommended. One possibility is to include already existing nature reserves in gene conservation programmes. This requires the reserves to be managed to maintain a broad genetic base in species, so that the potential for future adaptation is safeguarded. A further step of gene conservation is to establish a network of in situ conservation stands. To capture the existing adaptability, at least 20 populations of about 50 flowering and seed producing individuals, spread over the natural distribution area of the species, should be selected and allowed to differentiate over time. The marginal areas in the distribution should also be covered. When selecting conservation stands, putative hybrids with ornamental cultivars (colour and leaf variants) should be excluded. The in situ network should secure adaptation to changing environments over the whole range of the species. In areas where stands of 50 sycamore trees are not available, ex situ collections should be established to complement the in situ approach. The ex situ collections can be used for both conservation and seed production, and should be designed to enhance variability within a region and avoid inbreeding. Secondary breeding activities for timber improvement are also conceivable.
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