Also known as: European Sycamore, White Sycamore
Botanical Name: Acer pseudoplatanus
Description: The common Sycamore, which is a member of the Maple family, is seen all over central, southern and western Europe, often self-seeding to such an extent that young saplings have to be thinned out in order to keep them under control.
We are all familiar with the winged seeds known by children everywhere as “helicopters”. In order to produce white Sycamore veneer, the logs are felled in the winter months while the sap is not rising. They are then sliced, uncooked, as soon as possible after felling in order to avoid discolouration. Usually they will be flat cut so as to produce as much crown material as possible, but selected logs may be quartered or rift-cut when larger runs of straight-grained veneer are required. Many logs are pippy to varying degrees but these pips are usually the same light colour and should, in the main, be accepted. Those that are completely free of pips are infrequent and command much higher prices, particularly if this is combined with an elegant crown structure.
The UK is known as a good source of figured logs and the best of these will produce veneer with a beautiful fiddleback figure, always in demand for special interiors and furniture. This too is available in both crown and straight-grain veneer but the figure is usually accentuated in the latter. Older trees often display a darker area of heartwood which will usually be removed at the mill when the bundles are trimmed. Where, however, on close inspection this area is judged to offer characteristics that look particularly decorative, (usually meaning a combination of colour(s) and structure) logs of this type will be sliced and trimmed so that this old discoloured heartwood is left in. Good examples of this type, known as “Rainbow” Sycamore, are very eye-catching and offer a different, interesting and colourful alternative to the usual white veneer. Occasional logs of cluster or curl veneer may from time to time be cut, but these are not common and should be regarded as specials.