American Sycamore

Arbor walk #60

The Sycamore is regarded as the largest tree native to eastern North America, and was historically prized by Native Americans for the construction of dugout canoes.

Name American Sycamore
Latin Name Platanus occidentalis
Type Native
Diameter 38″ dbh
Color of Leaf Medium to dark green – yellow to brown in the fall
Shape of Leaf 4″ to 10″ wide with coarse marginal teeth
Color of Flower Female flower reddish / male flower yellowish
Shape of Flower Small rounded clusters
Fruit Characteristics Spherical balls 1 3/8″ diameter ripen to brown in the fall and persist into winter
Bark Characteristics Brown bark which exfoliates in irregular pieces to reveal creamy white inner bark
Foliage Type Deciduous

The American Sycamore typically reaches heights of 75-100 feet but are known to reach 150 feet plus in their ideal environmental conditions, which include flood plains and stream banks. The Sycamore is easily identified at a distance from its brown outer bark which exfoliates irregularly to reveal a distinctive white inner bark. It is easy to mistake the Sycamore for the Red Maple, so much so that although the Red Maple is the symbol of Canada, depicted on their penny is actually a Sycamore leaf by accident. Crucially, Sycamore’s have alternate leaf arrangement, while the Maple’s leaves are opposite.

Take a Look Around

Want to know more? Here are some links to additional information!

How to Identify the American Sycamore

The Phylogeny of the American Sycamore

The American Sycamore Through Time

The American Sycamore Through Space

Data on the American Sycamore

Additional Resources on the American Sycamore