sycamoreSycamore Leaves

Wild West Yorkshire, Tuesday 26 October 2010

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LIKE THE MAPLE I was drawing yesterday, sycamore is an Acer. Its scientific name is Acer pseudoplatanus, which translates as the 'false sycamore maple' is a reference to the original 'sycamore', Ficus sycomorus, a species of fig native to Egypt and Syria.To add to the confusion, It's known as the plane tree in Scotland, although it isn't related to true plane trees.

Introduced to Britain, the sycamore was often planted as a shelter-belt so that when he imagined the perfect country home, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:

A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore!

Underwoods (1887)

sycamoreIt doesn't normally match the autumn colour of maples and the fallen leaves soon break down, prompting John Evelyn, author of Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-trees (1664), to call for its removal from all gardens and avenues because the leaves 'which fall early, like those of the Ash, turn to mucilage and noxious insects, and putrefy with the first moisture of the season, so as they contaminate and marr our walks.'

SoxI picked up this leaf by the hospital car park as we arrived for evening visiting. Earlier I briefly sketched Sox the border collie in the bookshop. Sox, who is 14 years old, so that's 98 in dog years, had a little adventure at the seaside last week when she went sliding down the boulder clay banking towards the beach at Filey and, still attached to her lead, had to do a bit of border collie style abseiling to get back to the path.

Richard Bell, illustrator

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