Sycamore Tree









Sycamore Tree

(Plantanus occidentalis L.)

Interesting Information About Plant:  


     The sycamore tree is the largest deciduous trees in the Eastern United States.  It grows to 30 meters tall and lives nearly 600 years.  The wood of this tree is used for things such as: musical instruments, butcher blocks, and furniture.  This tree acts as a very nice shade tree as well.  It is thought that this tree got its name from both the Greek and the Latin.  Plantanus in Greek means very broad, in Latin it means Maple-like.

Some unique information about this tree is it losses its heartwood.  The inner wood usually rots out due to a fungus that attacks the tree.  Some animals take advantage of this and use the hollowed out tree as a home for the winter.  The loss of the heartwood doesn’t kill the tree it merely makes it weaker than trees with heart wood.  The bark on this tree also peels off, but I’m not really sure why.


Scientific Name: Plantanus occidentalis L.

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Platanaceae   (Plant Tree)

Continent of Origin: North America                            

Plant Growth Habit: Tree

Height at Maturity: More than 10 Feet

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Deciduous Perennial

Growth Habitat: Full Sun 

Manner of Culture: Native Species 

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish   

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: More Than The Diameter of a Coffee-Mug 

Produces Brownish Bark: Yes  

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: Yes  

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Patchy Bark   

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf  

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Between the Length of a Credit Card and a Writing-Pen  

Leaf Complexity: Simple 

Edge of Leaf: Serrated

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate 

Leaf has Petiole: Yes 

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Palmate

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green 

Change in Color of Foliage in October: Changes to Yellow   

Flowering Season: Spring 

Flowers: Single 

Type of Flower: Colorful Flower

Color of Flower: White/Yellow 

Shape of Individual Flower: Other

Size of Individual Flower: Between a Quarter and the Length of a Credit Card  

Sexuality: Male and Female on Same Plant

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter 

Fruit Fleshiness: Dry

Shape of Fruit: Spherical    

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brown or Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: Yes   

Common Name(s): Sycamore Tree, American planetree, Buttonwood, Button-ball tree

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: Maple Tree, Catalpa, Gum Tree, Royal Paulownia, Tulip Poplar…dr

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: The bark peels

Poisonous: None of Plant

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): No


Page prepared by:

Crystal Varney                                    

 November 2004



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