American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Location and Notable Facts

  • Other names
    • Buttonball Tree 
    • American Planetree
  • Scientific Family
    •  Platanaceae (Sycamore Family)
  • Discovery
    •  N/A
  • Size (Width/Height/Growth/DBH)
    • Can reach over 100 feet in height
  • Colors
    •  Yellow fall color before turning brown
  • Bloom/Seed/Fruit
    • The fruits mature in a small, brown, burr-like ball that hangs from the branch. The ball is not a single fruit itself but instead an aggregate of many small seed-like fruits called achenes with fuzzy hair-like structures attached. The balls are very light, and can float on water, which is useful in the dispersal. Their lightness also enables them to be carried by wind. Mammals and birds sometimes also function in the dispersal of seeds by eating and transporting the fruit. 
  • Leaf Arrangement 
    •  Deciduous, simple, alternate with 4-7-inch lobed leaf
      a. sycamore3
      Photo credit to Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Bark Arrangement 
    •  Dark reddish brown on upper trunk broken into smooth, light gray scales, peeling off to expose whitish inner bark
      PLOC_bark
      Photo credit to City of Portland, Oregon
  • Invasive/Non-invasive
    •  Non-invasive
  • Pests/Disease
    • Anthracnose is a major problem
  • Comparisons to similar trees
    • London Planetree
  • Usefulness
    •  Ornamental
  • Local Location / History:  
    • Located on the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail, across from the Veterans’ Memorial

    a. sycamore