American Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis

One of the largest eastern hardwoods, with an enlarged base, massive, straight trunk, and large, spreading, often crooked branches forming a broad open crown.

Height: 60-100’ / Diameter: 2-4’ sometimes much larger.

Leaves: 4-8” long and wide. Broadly ovate, with 3 or 5 shallow broad short-pointed lobes; wavy edges with scattered large teeth. Bright green above, paler beneath, turning brown in autumn.

Bark: smooth, whitish, and mottled; peeling off in large thin flakes, exposing patches of brown, green, and gray.

Flowers: tiny; greenish, appear in spring. Fruit: 1” in diameter; 1 brown ball hanaging on long stalk; mature in autumn.

Habitat: wet soils of stream banks, flood plains, and edges of lakes and swamps; dominant in mixed forests.

Sycamore pioneers on exposed upland sites such as old fields and strip mines. The wood is used for furniture parts, millwork, flooring, and specialty products such as butcher blocks, as well as pulpwood, particleboard, and fiberboard. It grows to a larger trunk diameter than any other native hardwood. The hollow trunks of old, giant trees were homes for chimney swifts in earlier times.