Sycamore

Silhouette - sycamore
  • Latin name: Platanus occidentalis L.
  • French name: Platane occidental
  • Synonym(s): Buttonball-tree , American sycamore , American plane-tree
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19020
  • NA4 , C5
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf form - sycamore
  • Leaf form - sycamore

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate, simple
  • Base wedge-shaped to deeply indented
  • Prominently 3-veined
  • Usually 3 or 5 lobes
  • Notches shallow
  • Stipules prominent in spring

Length

  • 10–20 cm

Width

  • Slightly wider than long
  • Central lobe wider than long

Margin

  • Coarsely toothed

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - sycamore

Form

  • Bluntly cone-shaped
  • Covered with a single scale
  • Enclosed in the base of the leaf stalk until after leaf fall
  • Leaf scars narrow, almost encircling bud
  • 5 or more vein scars
  • No true terminal bud

Length

  • 6–10 mm

Colour

  • Reddish

Twigs

  • Winter twig - sycamore

Form

  • Zigzag, hairless
  • Encircled at each leaf scar by stipule scars

Colour

  • Brownish

Flowers

Form

  • Borne in leaf axils
  • Pollen flowers small
  • In clusters along the twigs
  • Seed flowers larger than pollen flowers
  • Long-stalked
  • In ball-like clusters near the shoot tips

Colour

  • Pollen flowers yellowish-green
  • Seed flowers crimson

Structure

  • Monoecious

Floral timing

  • With the leaves

Fruits

  • Fruit - sycamore
  • Fruit aggregate - sycamore

Form

  • Solitary ball-like aggregate (a syncarp)
  • Hang at the end of a stalk
  • Small, 1-seeded, elongated
  • Stiff hairs at the base that spread apart when the aggregate breaks up
  • Remain on the tree throughout the winter
  • Disintegrate gradually

Length

  • Stalk 8–16 cm

Width

  • 20–35 mm

Colour

  • Hairs brownish

Structure

  • Achene

Bark

Form

  • Smooth
  • Flaking off in large, irregular, thin pieces
  • Producing a striking mottled effect
  • Scaly at the base of mature trees

Colour

  • Brownish
  • Inner bark green, cream-coloured, or white
  • Dark brown at the base of mature trees

Wood

Texture

  • Medium heavy, hard, weak

Colour

  • Brownish

Morphology

  • Diffuse-porous
  • Pores scarcely visible to the naked eye
  • Rays wide, 2–4 mm high
  • Prominent on radial and tangential surfaces

Size

Height

  • To 35 m

Diameter

  • To 200 cm

Maximum age

  • 250 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - sycamore

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Thick

Crown

  • Open, spreading
  • Massive crooked branches

Root system

Shallow, spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Rich bottomlands
  • Also on poorly drained soil

Light tolerance

  • Moderately shade-tolerant

Associated species

  • Scattered individuals mixed with other broadleaf trees

Range

Southern Ontario

Photos
  • Sycamore
  • Sycamore
  • Sycamore
  • Sycamore
  • Sycamore
Distribution map
Distribution map - sycamore
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