Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

Sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

Other common names: American Plane Tree, American Sycamore, Buttonball Tree

French names: Platane occidental

Family: Sycamore Family (Platanaceae)

Distinctive features: Tree; Patchy bark.

Similar species:
  •   London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia) - almost identical in appearance - the seed balls are different.


Flowers: Spring

Leaves: Alternate, Simple, Toothed

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Open areas.

Books: Trees in Canada: 236   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common in southern areas.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: occidentalis: western


See Also:
  •   Great Americans: The Sycamores, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney


Photographs: 113 photographs available, of which 12 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Sycamore bark is very distinctive. The multi-coloured patches are unique.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Close-up photo of bark.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

A good view of the trunk and bark, looking up the tree.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

The bark on very old trees is quite different! However, the characteristic patchy bark will still be visible on younger branches farther up in the tree.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

The overall shape and form of a mature tree.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Here is a photo of a winter twig.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Leaves starting to unfurl in May.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Another picture of very young leaves, also showing an unopened flower "ball.".

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Typical Sycamore leaf. Sycamores are late leafers. In June their leaves are still growing out.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

The fruit of Sycamore are these balls, about 1-2" in diameter.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

They often persist on the tree through the winter, eventually breaking apart into fine fibers which readily blow about in the wind.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

A very old and weathered Sycamore, in Point Pelee National park. A person can easily stand in the vertical slot.


Range map for Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)