We’re going to call this species the ‘King of the Native Trees’. Its stature alone merits the designation. They can grow up to 75 feet in height and attain a massive girth — up to 15 feet in diameter! Add to that it’s mottled bark and stark white upper branches that light up the winter landscape and you’d be hard pressed to find a more visually impressive native tree.
Its leaves are soft and a woolly, light green. It bears an interesting seed ball which disintegrates easily. No worries about raking them up! Early European settlers named this tree ‘American Sycamore’ because the foliage resembled the sycamore of the British Isles (Acer pseudoplatanus).
Growth Rate and Culture
Young trees transplant easily and grow quickly. They prefer full sun in a moist site, and are deer and pollution tolerant. This tree is a species of special concern-possibly extirpated, in the state of Maine.
American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, is a member of the Platanaceae family. There are 7 or 8 species in the geneus Platanus, but only Platanus occidentalis is native to the U.S. Individual trees can live to 600 years. And it’s fast growing, making it a great shade tree for a large yard. It’s one of the few trees that, in William Cullina’s words, “you could plant from seed when you are 50 and see it become a decent sized specimen by the time you are 75.”
Sycamore is great for wet areas and can tolerate weeks of flooding. It is a natural colonizer of disturbed areas. Use it on degraded stream banks and to reclaim disturbed land. It is susceptible to Sycamore Anthracnose. Anthracnose can be unsightly, but trees seem to be able to tolerate it and continue growing to their full size potential.
This species can tolerate deer, black walnut, wet soil, and urban pollution.
Numerous wildlife species eat the American Sycamore seed heads. The endangered Cerulean Warbler prefers to prefer to perch and sing from Sycamore branches. Other creatures live inside hollow trees such as Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, Great Crested Flycatchers, Chimney Swifts, and Raccoons. It is the larval host plant for the white marked Tussock Moth.
Native Americans used sycamore for a variety of medicinal purposes. They hollowed out trunk sections for dug-out canoes.
Our sycamore trees are in containers and easily transported and planted. Stop in today to take a look!