DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Germinating sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seeds. Two seedlings about to emerge from their split seed coats. The green folded tissues are the cotyledons; the vertical filaments (white, reddish brown) are hypocotyls - stems that terminate in the root (not visible here). Sycamore seeds are winged achenes (single-seeded fruits) known as samaras. Usually produced in pairs, they can be carried considerable distances on the wind when shed. Sycamore is native to central and eastern Europe and west Asia. It was probably introduced into UK in the 16th century as a timber tree. As a prolific seed producer it is now the most widespread and common neophyte tree in Britain, often regarded as a pest species in the wider environment.
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