(Acerpseudo-platanus) Sycamore was introduced into England towards the end of the 16th century, recent enough for Gerard to call it "a stranger to England". It withstands sea and mountain winds better than most timber trees, and so was widely planted in upland and exposed parts as a windbreak for farmhouses (Hoskins). Some say, though, that sycamore will tend to kill other trees in its vicinity (Wookey).
There was a belief in mid-Wales that sycamore trees keep the fairies away and stop them spoiling the milk, probably because it was a fairly late introduction, and also because of its association with the farmyard (E E Evans). Devonshire Revel buns were baked on sycamore leaves. These are Easter cakes, each cake baked on its own individual leaf (Mabey. 1977), the point being that the imprint of the leaf should appear on the cake. To dream of sycamores foretells jealousy to the married, but it promises marriage to the single (Gordon. 1985).
Solitary sycamores in Ireland were treated with the same respect as solitary hawthorns. There was one at Killadoon, known as "Honey-tree", for example, which was certainly venerated in the same way (Wood-Martin). A lone sycamore once grew a mile or two from Dover, and was known as the Lone Tree. It was said to be a witness to murder. Legend has it that a soldier from the Dover garrison killed a comrade with a staff he was carrying, and which he stuck in the ground, saying that the crime would never be discovered until the day the dry wood took root. He served abroad for many years unsuspected, but when he came back, and was stationed again at Dover, he found that the staff had become a flourishing tree. So the crime was discovered by confession, and he was hanged (Bett. 1952).
The name sycamore (and the French sycomore) are derived by a mistake from the name of the Fig, Ficus sycamorus which means fig-mulberry. The shape of the leaves is vaguely similar (Barber & Phillips). In Cornwall, this tree used to be called Faddy-tree. The Helston Furry was at one time known as the Faddy, and the sycamore Faddy-tree, for the boys would make whistles from its branches at the festival (Deane & Shaw).
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