POLL: A new Norfolk view on the hated sycamore. Will it change your mind?

Stop thinking of them as hated 'Johnny Foreigner' of the tree world.

Stop digging up those myriad self-seeded saplings in your beds and borders.

Stop cursing the sticky sap on your car windscreen.

And start loving - maybe even hugging - Norfolk's noble sycamores.

According to a north Norfolk tree expert, the much-despised sycamore will be one of the tough county survivors of global warming.

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While most schoolchildren get to know their twirly 'helicopter' seeds, a staple of the autumn nature table, few people know that sycamore leaves are a lollipop treat for hungry dormice.

Simon Case, North Norfolk District Council's landscape officer with special responsibility for trees, says we also now know that sycamores' roots actually go back very deep into British history.

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Mr Case made an impassioned plea for greater tolerance towards sycamores during an NNDC planners' debate over a Cromer tree preservation order (TPO).

Objections to the order, for a number of trees at Hampshire House, Cromwell Road, included comments that one group of sycamores was 'not worthy' of a TPO.

But Mr Case said English Nature was now rethinking its attitude to sycamores. 'Because of changing climate conditions, horse chestnuts and beech trees are dying out and in 100 years I doubt there will be any more on the north Norfolk coast,' he said.

'Sycamores are possibly going to be the most important tree we will have, after the holm oak.'

Mr Case confessed that he wanted to 'wave the banner for sycamores' and said their bad press dated back to a 19th-century Scottish forester who wanted rid of them in favour of pines so claimed they were not a native species.

In fact, according to Mr Case, UK pollen samples had been found dating back to the Ice Age.

He warmed to his theme, telling wide-eyed councillors that sycamores were second only to oaks in bio-diversity value because their spring-time leaves attracted huge numbers of aphids.

The greenfly were a food source for a range of insects and birds - and dormice, according to Mr Case.

The British rodent faced such competition for nuts from successful American invader the grey squirrel, that it had changed its habits and now ate aphids from sycamore leaves 'like a lollipop,' according to Mr Case.

Councillors voted to confirm the tree preservation order.

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