America's Shade Tree
Sycamore Tree (Platanus occidentalis)
Appearance: The Sycamore tree can be easily spotted with a keen eye by its mottled and uneven appearance. That is due to the tree's bark being brittle and hard to stretch. As the tree grows, the bark cannot keep up with the tree's growth; therefore, it gets a "mottled" grayish-white appearance. Occurring in the first weeks of August, the tree's leaves will grow sticky green buds signaling the new foliage of the upcoming year. The tree's bark is ruddy and dark brown in coloring. The tree's wood is brittle and hard to cut and can be used to make furniture, molding, instruments, and hardwood flooring. The tree's wood has also been used extensively in the shipping industry.
Hardiness Zone (4-9): Native to the east coast of North America, especially in the Virginias. It can be found growing as far north as Canada, as far west as Iowa, and can be spotted as far south as Florida and Texas. As hardy and resilient as the Sycamore tree is, it is prone to infection by specific fungus and especially to "Plane anthracnose disease." This fungus causes the tree to become unsightly. Because of this gangrenous appearance, the Sycamore is rarely used in landscaping.
Mature Height: When grown in deeper soil, a Sycamore can grow as high as 130 ft and have a 6-10 ft circumference, making it a favorite shade tree in the fronts of many American homes.
Soil requirements: The Sycamore tree needs a deep soil planting environment. To reach its best heights, you should plant your tree in a heavily saturated area. Deep, wet soil proves best when growing your Sycamore tree.
Growing speed: Under ideal conditions, the Sycamore is a fast-growing tree. Its growing season is from spring to early fall. The Sycamore can be a messy tree shedding plenty of leaves and can raise sidewalks, and the roots go deep into the soil, sometimes getting into water lines.
Final Remarks: In the fall, the tree's leaves fire a brilliant array of colors from yellow, red, to brown, making it a beautiful tree in summer and autumn. All in all, the Sycamore is a strong, hardy, resilient tree. Its leafy foliage proves excellent for shade in the yards of homes, but the tree sheds annually, and the leaves will need a high amount of maintenance for pick-up. The tree is also susceptible to the fungus that eats away at the tree's bark, causing an unsightly uneven appearance. The roots grow deep and are known to get into water lines.