Platanus occidentalis

Native to the eastern United states the sycamore is one of the largest trees in the United States reaching a height of 100’ with an equal spread. The sycamore is often located along floodplains but are sometimes used as a street tree as well. The signature feature of this huge tree is its brown bark which exfoliates in irregular pieces to reveal creamy white and grey inner bark. Mature trees typically display mottled white bark that facilitates identification from great distances. The large 3-5 lobed medium to dark green leaves (4-10” wide) have coarse marginal teeth. Female flowers give way to fuzzy, long-stalked, spherical fruiting balls (to 1 3/8” diameter) that ripen to brown in October and persist into early winter. Each fruiting ball consists of numerous, densely packed, tiny seed-like fruits (achenes). Fruiting balls gradually disintegrate as fall progresses, dispersing their seeds, often in downy tufts, with the wind. Wood has been commercially used for a variety of products including furniture, cabinets, barrels, crates, and butcher blocks. Native Americans hollowed out trunk sections for dugout canoes.


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