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The American sycamore is a massive tree and can attain the largest trunk diameter of any of the Eastern U.S. hardwoods. The native sycamore has a grand branch display and its bark is unique among all trees - you can always identify a sycamore just by looking at the bark. The alternate maple-looking leaves are large and also unique to those familiar with sycamore.
Platanus occidentalis is readily identifiable with broad, maple-like leaves and a trunk and limb complexion of mixed green, tan and cream. Some suggest it looks like camouflage. It is a member of one of the planet's oldest clan of trees (Platanaceae) and paleobotanists have dated the family to be over 100 million years old. Living sycamore trees can reach ages of five hundred to six hundred years.
The American sycamore or western planetree is North America's largest native broadleaf tree and is often planted in yards and parks. It's hybridized cousin, the London planetree, adapts very well to urban living. The "improved" sycamore is New York City's tallest street tree and is the most common tree in Brooklyn, New York.
Description and Identification
Common Names: American planetree, buttonwood, American sycamore, buttonball, and buttonball-tree.
Habitat: America's largest broadleaf tree. It is a fast-growing and long-lived tree of lowlands and old fields.
Description: Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is a common tree and one of the largest in the eastern deciduous forest.
Uses: Sycamore is valuable for timber and is also widely planted as a shade tree
The Natural Range of Sycamore
Sycamore grows in all States east of the Great Plains except Minnesota. Its native range extends from southwestern Maine west to New York, extreme southern Ontario, central Michigan, and southern Wisconsin; south in Iowa and eastern Nebraska to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and south-central Texas; east to northwestern Florida and southeastern Georgia. It is also found in the mountains of northeastern Mexico.
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