PlantsPlatanus→American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up American Sycamore
Give a thumbs up Sycamore
Give a thumbs up Buttonwood
Give a thumbs up American Planetree
Give a thumbs up Plane-Tree

Botanical names:
Platanus occidentalis Accepted
Platanus occidentalis var. palmeri Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 75-100 feet
Plant Spread: 75-100 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Fruit: Showy
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Late fall or early winter
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Flower Color: Other: Yellow (male) and red (female)
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Other: April
Suitable Locations: Street Tree
Uses: Provides winter interest
Erosion control
Shade Tree
Water gardens
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Other Beneficial Insects: 45 species of common caterpillars use it as host
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Flood Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Pollinators: Wind
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP MembersThe Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP Members
By dave on March 15, 2014

Here's a report of the most popular water garden plants from our database!

(Full article14 comments)
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Posted by Marilyn (Kentucky - Zone 6a) on Feb 6, 2012 11:31 PM

When I was growing up in Centerville, OH (a southern suburb of Dayton, OH), my parents planted an American Sycamore on their quarter-acre lot, as well as other types of trees. My dad planted it within a year of building the house and they had the house for 16 years. As the years went by, that tree shaded the whole house in the summer so well that the AC didn't have to be used.

Then, when they moved to Lebanon, OH, and built another house, they already had American Sycamores growing on their 5-acre property.

I always loved seeing those beautiful trees! To this day, whenever I see an American Sycamore, I remember the wonderful trees growing in the Centerville and the Lebanon yards!

DH and I don't have a large enough yard to grow this wonderful tree, but if we did, we'd grow it!

Love the peelings on the bark and the distinctive white bark color underneath the peelings!

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Posted by gingin (Fountain, Florida - Zone 8b) on Apr 3, 2019 8:39 AM

When Hurricane Michael hit here in the Florida panhandle I was really scared that my huge sycamore would fall and destroy my house. It lost lots of large branches but the tree still stands straight and tall much to my joy!

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Posted by sallyg (central Maryland) on Sep 14, 2019 4:20 PM

American Sycamore is a common tree along many highways in Maryland, and found in many parks near rivers.One beautiful specimen is the Witness Tree at Antietem National Battlefield. One can stand in utter peace on the stone bridge over a beautiful clear stream, near the massive tree, and reflect on the history of the site.

It is a messy tree, not a good choice for all yards, as it drops bark and twigs and has large leaves. Despite the mess, I have two sycamores in my yard and love them for their nature value and unique character.

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Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Mar 25, 2012 3:55 PM

Honey bees get light olive pollen and honeydew from this plant.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Aug 11, 2018 6:43 PM

The American Sycamore is a common tree in much of its native range from southern New England down to the Florida border into much of east Texas up to most of Iowa and Illinois to southern Michigan to the southeast tip of Ontario. growing mostly in rich bottomlands and along watercourses. It is fast growing of 2.5 to 3.5 feet/year and often lives over 350 years. Its leaves are 4 to 8 inches wide and have 3 to 5 shallow lobes. The buttonball dry fruits hang singly on the twigs. Sycamore is messy by dropping lots of twigs, pieces of bark, the buttonball fruits, and large leaves, but it is basically wind-firm. It has a shallow, fibrous root system and is easy to transplant. It does get picked on badly many years, when it is a cool, wet spring, by leaf anthracnose, a fungi disease, that causes most of the young leaves to darken and die, but a second crop comes forth. This causes some witches-brooming of twigs. It is a host plant to about 45 species of beneficial caterpillar species, and it does get picked on by other insects that are not so beneficial as sycamore lacebug, aphids, and spider mites. This is a fine, beautiful tree for large areas, not for small yards. On the grounds of the Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford, PA, near the Gideon Gilpin farmhouse, there is a huge specimen with a plaque saying that the tree was alive when the Constitution was ratified in 1787.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Love your pic Chelle! by Marilyn Feb 7, 2012 5:59 PM 2
Wonderful photo! by plantladylin Aug 11, 2013 1:53 PM 4
Not river birch by growitall Aug 18, 2014 8:43 AM 2
Beautiful!!! by TsFlowers Nov 9, 2017 1:32 PM 5
Be-a-u-T-i-ful!! by TsFlowers Nov 8, 2017 12:13 PM 2
a 15 photo composite of american sycamore leaves in the fall by jathton Oct 24, 2019 11:37 AM 0
2 freezes by Den75 May 3, 2020 10:36 AM 1
Maple leaf? by marcia913 Aug 4, 2019 2:02 AM 13
What is this fruit(?) found under a decorative tree in a park in Switzerland? by lophophora Jul 7, 2019 7:52 AM 5
Question regarding identification of a late summer growth on maple trees by ReneDatta Apr 2, 2019 8:33 AM 5
Which trees don't offer that much shade? by PaleoTemp Oct 30, 2018 4:51 AM 6
american sweetgum? by KTINPINK May 17, 2018 4:44 PM 11
Floral Alphabet Soup! Minding your Ps and Q's. by KatEnns Mar 27, 2018 2:09 AM 29
Oak Tree - what kind by TsFlowers Nov 18, 2017 7:26 PM 18
What am i? by IJsbrandtGA Aug 3, 2017 4:30 PM 2
Looking for Sycamore Seeds [also posted in seed] by yeah Jun 30, 2017 2:47 PM 6

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