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Consider Planting American Sycamore in Your Yard

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Young girl holding her hand on a sycamore
Geri Lavrov/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

American Sycamore or Platanus Occidentalis:

American sycamore is readily adaptable to the urban environment and the Nation's most massive broadleaf tree. But being a large tree and the fact that sycamore is rot and damage prone, I nearly eliminated the tree from this "consider planting" list. Still, I stick with the tree and it's significant shortcomings.

Sycamore is by far the most popular tree on my site with hundreds of daily visits to several sites I've devoted to the tree. People love its winter brilliance, it's creamy, shedding bark and growth potential. The people have spoken.

Habit and Range:

American sycamore is one of the simplest trees to grow and transplants like a dream. In North America, sycamore attains large tree status and grows 75' to 100' tall. Be forewarned - the sycamore should only be planted as a single yard specimen or in places where space is not a premium. Sycamore occupies one of the largest north-south ranges in North America - from Canada to Florida. The tree is very site tolerant and can grow under nearly any condition but is best adapted to creek banks.

Strong Cultivars:

The best know and only cultivar I recommend to plant is called London planetree and actually a hybrid (Platanus xacerifolia).

More on American Sycamore:

Identifying Sycamore or Platanus occidentalis

See Plant Hardiness Zones

 

Expert Comments:

"For four to six months of our winter dormancy period each year, the huge, white speckled boles and limbs of this tree make it the most conspicuous living organism along every river within its range." - Guy Sternberg, Native Trees for North American Landscapes

"Happiest in natural moist bottomlands, where it can grow or rot or split to its heart's content, the American sycamore struggles in cities."- Arthur Plotnik, The Urban Tree Book

"A great and noble tree."- Michael Dirr, Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs

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