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Platanus occidentalis

Common Name(s):
American sycamore, Eastern sycamore, sycamore
Cultivar(s):
Howard
Category:
Trees
Comment:

This decidious shade tree is generally reguarded as the most massive indigenous tree to North America.  It reaches its largest size near rivers, steams, or flood plains.   Would do well in a rain garden with adequate space.  In young trees the bark is brown with potato chip-like pieces that flake off to reveal a lighter creamier bark underneath.  Mature trees have mottled whitish gray bark that is very easy to identify from a distance.  This intresting bark provides winter interest.  It is not known for its fall color which is a yellowish-brown.  This tree is deer resistant. 

Family: Platenaceae

Problems

Sycamore anthracnose is a significant disease that damages foliage and twigs, leading to premature leaf drop. Canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew can also occur but with good cultural practices generally are not fatal. Insect visitors include borers, scale, Japanese beetles, caterpillars, lacebugs and mites. When grown in a lawn or along a sidewalk, litter from twigs, large leaves, bark and fruiting balls can require significant cleanup.

Height:
75-100 ft.
Flower:
Insignificant, small monoecious flowers yellow (male), red (female), appear in April. The fruit is a showy fuzzy, long-stalked, spherical ball (to 1 3/8” diameter). They ripen to brown in the fall and persist into early winter. Each ball contains of many seed-like fruits called achenes. As fall progresses the balls break down and the seeds fly out in downy tufts on the wind.
Zones:
4 to 9
Habit:
Single trunk, horizontal barnching
Site:
Be sure to have enough room in full sun for this massive tree. The roots like medium to damp well-drained soil.
Texture:
coarse
Form:
Large massive trunk; wide spreading rounded open crown; crooked branches
Width:
75-100 ft.
Growth Rate:
Moderate to rapid
Leaf:
Very large, 3-5 lobed alternate, simple, medium to dark green leaves (4-10” wide) with 3 to 5 lobes has coarse marginal teeth. The petiole flares out and covers over a leaf bud at base. Tan to brown fall color
Tags:
spiky fruit, mottled bark, white bark, deciduous, interesting bark, large shade tree, birds, full sun, deer resistant, rain garden, large leaves

NCCES plant id: 3037

Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore
T. Davis Sydnor, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore bark in winter Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore bark in winter
T. Davis Sydnor, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore bark Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore bark
Elizabeth Moss, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore leaves and fruit Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore leaves and fruit
Allen Bridgman, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore buds Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore buds
Robert Videki, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore petiole Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore petiole
Rebekah D. Wallace, CC BY - 4.0
Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore fall color Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore fall color
T. Davis Sydnor, CC BY - 4.0