Sycamore Trees: Leaves, Bark, Types – Identification Guide (Pictures)

The crown of Sycamore trees is broad and rounded, and the foliage is thick and lush. Serrated lobed leaves of sycamore trees resemble maple leaves with three to five lobes and are similar to those of oaks. The bark of symamore trees is thin and peeling, with seed balls dropping in the spring. Sycamore trees may grow to be up to 130 feet (40 meters) tall.

In North America, sycamore trees are ubiquitous. The eastern and central parts of the United States are home to the American sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis). In the western sections of the United States, Californian sycamore trees (Platanus racemosa) and Mexican sycamore trees (Platanus mexicana) are more prevalent.

The sycamore tree species are covered in depth in this article. The finest sycamore trees for your garden landscape may be identified by photographs and descriptions.

What Are Sycamore Trees?

The plant genus Platanus and the family Platanaceae include Sycamore trees, which are flowering trees. Plane trees are a nickname for sympatry woods. These huge broad-leafed trees may grow up to 130 feet (40 meters) tall. Due to the bark that peels away, exposing white or orange patches, sycamore trees are typically easy to identify.

Facts About Sycamore Trees

The Platanus genus contains roughly six species of sycamore trees. The American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Mexican sycamore (Platanus mexicana), and California Sycamore tree (Platanus racemosa) are the most common sycamore trees. The sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and the sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus) are two tree species that aren’t in the Platanus genus.

In city landscapes and parks, Sycamore trees are a fast-growing popular deciduous shade tree. In fact, one of the biggest native deciduous trees in North America is Sycamore. Sycamores aren’t often seen in residential gardens because of their massive size. A hardwood with a coarse grain, sycamore tree wood is a hardwood. Musical instruments, butchers’ blocks, and furniture are all made of sycamore wood.

As they grow, symamore trees are susceptible to fungus diseases. The older trees tend to hollow out as they age. Sycamore trees’ exfoliating thin bark, which gives the tree a patchy appearance, and their spherical seed balls or pods with downy tufts of seeds are two distinguishing characteristics.

Sycamore Tree Leaves

Sycamore trees have huge serrated lobed leaves that are light-green with three or five lobes in the autumn (left). The veins that run to the lobed leaves’ pointed ends are prominent. In the fall, sycamore leaves turn yellow and then brown as they grow alternately.

The leaves are 4 to 7 inches (10 to 17 cm) in diameter. A single leaf attaches to one spot on the stem, and sycamore tree leaves grow alternately. Along tree trunks, the leaves develop in a staggered, alternating pattern. Sycamore tree leaves have pointed lobes and are oval in shape, much like maple leaves.

Sycamore tree leaves vs. maple tree leaves

Maple trees and sycamore trees have leaves that are strikingly similar in certain varieties. Maple tree leaves have deep indentations whereas sycamore tree leaves have shallow indentations in the midst of their lobes. Maple tree leaves have an opposing leaf arrangement than Sycamore tree leaves, which grow alternately.

Sycamore Tree Bark

Sycamore tree bark is flaky and flakes off in pieces, and it exfoliates in small patches. The trunks of the sycamore tree have patches of white, brown, tan, and gray colors due to the mottled bark that gives them a camouflage appearance. Sycamore tree bark has a distinctively textured look that makes it easy to identify in deciduous woods or parks.

Sycamore Tree Balls

Sycamore trees develop 1″ (2.5 cm) spherical seed balls as they age. The green color of the sycamore seed balls fades over time to become brown. In the autumn or winter, seed balls drop from the tree to the ground, and in the spring, they fall. Tufts of fluffy little winged seeds are found in the cores of sycamore balls. When the brown balls fall to the ground in the spring, the seeds disperse easily.

How to Identify Sycamore Trees

The mottled, peeling bark of sycamore trees gives them a scabby appearance and is the easiest way to identify them. Sycamore leaves are light green to dark green, with three or five lobes. Due to the brown balls dangling from bare branches in the winter, sycamore trees are easy to see.

Identify sycamore trees by their leaves: Three or five-lobed leaves with broad shallow indentations that form an overall oval shape are found on the sycamore tree. Look for serrated edges around the lobes’ margins and prominent veins on each lobe.

Identify sycamore trees by their bark: The surface of the sycamore tree bark is smooth and unbroken. Because of the bark that flakes off these fast-growing trees, identify sycamore trees by their patchy appearance. White, gray, brown, and tan are the most common bark colors.

Identify sycamore trees by their seed balls: During the winter, before dropping in the spring, sycamore trees create tiny brown seed balls that dangle from branches.

Types of Sycamore Trees (With Pictures)

The eight types of sycamore trees that grow in parks, towns, and forests are described below.

American Sycamore Tree (Platanus occidentalis)

The big broad-leafed trees with a wide irregular rounded crown of the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) are planted throughout the country. The spreading thick trunk of American sycamore trees grows to around 100 to 131 feet (30 to 40 meters) tall. Several American sycamore trees have multi-stemmed looks when their trunks divide near the ground. In USDA zones 4–9, American sycamore trees flourish in full sun and thrive. Create rich, well-draining soil for these majestic trees.

Buttonwood trees, western plane trees, American plane tree, and water beech are all common names for American sycamore trees. The eastern United States is home to the majority of American sycamore trees. Large trees are commonly seen in wetlands and grow beside streams and rivers. Shade trees in cities were previously grown in America by American sycamore trees. Their roots, on the other hand, damage sidewalks and building foundations.

Brown spiked balls dangle from unbranched wood on American sycamore trees. In the spring, these sycamore balls fall, yielding to small flower clusters. American sycamore trees have enormous leaves that make up their foliage. In the spring, the leaves are light green, then in the summer, they become dark green. The leaves of the American sycamore turn yellow-brown in the fall.

Sycamore tree leaves: The leaves of the American sycamore tree are ovate in form with three or five lobes and a medium to dark green hue. Between lobes, there are shallow sinuses or indentations. Sycamore leaves, which resemble maples leaves, are 4 to 9 inches (10 to 23 cm) long.

Sycamore tree bark: The reddish-brown bark of American sycamore trees flakes off in long strips. The tree’s uneven mottling shows underlying white or gray bark. The bark’s “camouflage” feature makes it simple to identify.

American sycamore bark

Mexican Sycamore Tree (Platanus mexicana)

Mexican sycamore trees have flaky bark and lobed maple-like leaves and grow quickly. Mexican sycamore trees have a 7-foot (2-meter) trunk and grow to 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 meters) in height. Heat tolerance is superior in this sycamore species than in American sycamores. In the western United States, Mexican sycamore trees are popular. Sycamore trees from Mexico can be grown in zones 5 to 9 and thrive in full sun.

Platanus mexicana grows beside rivers and streams, as does all species of sycamore. Despite this, when established, the sycamore species is drought tolerant. Because it doesn’t grow as tall as the American sycamore, the Mexican sycamore may be used in huge residential gardens as an ornamental tree. The Mexican sycamore tree’s roots, on the other hand, can be aggressive, and it shouldn’t be planted near houses or other buildings.

Sycamore tree leaves: On the top sides, Mexican sycamore tree leaves are glossy green, while on the bottom, they are silvery green. Between the lobes and smooth borders, the five-lobed leaves have shallow notches. The leaves have prominent yellow veins.

Mexican sycamore leaf

Sycamore tree bark: Smooth white and light brown bark characterize Mexican sycamore trees. The bark peels off as the tree ages, leaving a patchwork pattern on the trunk, as it does with all sycamore species.

Mexican sycamore bark

California Sycamore Tree (Platanus racemosa)

California sycamore trees are tall, deciduous trees that may grow to be 110 feet (35 meters) tall. They feature patterned bark, extensive lobed maple-like leaves, and a lot of thin branches. The western sycamore or California plane tree is another name for the California sycamore tree. The western coast of the United States is home to California sycamore trees.

In public parks and residential landscapes, California sycamore trees are decorative landscape trees. USDA zones 7 to 9 are droughttolerant, and the trees thrives in full sun. The fuzzy pom-pom seed balls that appear at the end of fall are an identifying feature of California sycamore trees.

Sycamore tree leaves: Five lobes with deep clefts between them characterize California sycamore tree leaves. On the top side, the leaves are lustrous, while on the underside they are matte. The leaf pattern of this sycamore leaf is similar to that of most other sycamore leaves. In the autumn, California sycamore tree leaves turn orangey-yellow.

Sycamore tree bark: Tan, pinkish-gray, white, and beige are all present in the California sycamore tree bark. The papery bark on the tree’s slender branches peels away as it ages.

California sycamore bark

Arizona Sycamore Tree (Platanus wrightii)

The Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii) tree is native to both Arizona and New Mexico. The Arizona sycamore grows between 70 and 80 feet (20 and 24 meters) as a big deciduous tree. In the western United States, Arizona sycamore trees may be found in deserts. Only a small natural habitat exists for Arizona sycamore trees in North America.

The Arizona sycamore needs a constant supply of water because it is less drought-resistant than the Californian sycamore. Streams and rivers are good places for the Arizona species to grow. Zones 7 through 11 are ideal for Arizona sycamore trees. In large gardens, parks, and open green areas, Arizona sycamore trees are excellent shade trees. It’s unsuitable for residential backyards and gardens, however, due to its rapid expansion.

Sycamore tree leaves: Three or five lobes appear on Arizona sycamore tree leaves. The leaves have a maple-tree leaf appearance due to deep impressions between the pointed lobes.

Arizona sycamore leaves

Sycamore tree bark: The bark of the Arizona sycamore is speckled with white patches that flake off to reveal the smooth gray bark.

Arizona sycamore bark

Old World Sycamore Tree (Platanus orientalis)

Old World sycamore trees are big, fast-growing deciduous trees with a wide spreading crown. They are sometimes known as Oriental planetrees. Old World sycamore trees have strong hard bark and resemble maple trees in appearance. They may grow to be 100 feet (30 meters) tall.

Eastern Europe and the Middle East are home to this sycamore species. Sycamore trees from the Old World grow in damp, marshy soil near rivers. These sycamores, on the other hand, are drought-tolerant and flourish in full sun once they have grown. In zones 7 to 9, old world sycamore trees are ideal. In the United States, Oriental planetrees are uncommon.

Sycamore tree leaves: Old World sycamore trees have 10″ (25 cm) broad deep-green leaves. Five or seven lobes with serrated edges characterize Oriental planetree leaves. Between the leaf lobes, there are deep notches.

Old World sycamore leaves

Sycamore tree bark: The old world sycamore tree bark peels to reveal white-gray patches, which is brown-gray. As the tree grows, the bark exfoliates.

Old World sycamore bark

English Sycamore Tree (Platanus acerifolia)

English sycamore trees have smooth brown peeling bark and dark green leaves. They are massive shade trees. Maple-like leaves, light gray bark, and pairs of sycamore ball seeds characterize this decorative landscaping tree. The English sycamore tree’s unique identifying characteristic is the fact that its sycamore balls grow in pairs. The sycamore tree, which grows to 75 to 100 feet (22 to 30 meters) tall with a rounded shape, is native to England.

A cross between the American and Old World sycamore trees, English sycamore trees are a mix. The English sycamore has a straighter, yet shorter trunk when compared to other sycamore trees. The London plane and the London plane tree are popular names for the English sycamore tree. Platanus hispanica, which refers to its Spanish origins, is another botanical name for the tree.

Sycamore tree leaves: The lobed leaves of the English sycamore tree are three or five lobes long and contain deep clefts. The width of English sycamore leaves ranges from 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 cm). In the fall, the leaves become a drab yellow-brown color, which is medium to dark green in tone. You may observe rough marginal teeth on the leaf margins of English sycamore trees in photographs.

Sycamore tree bark: Brown-gray English sycamore tree bark with creamy white inner bark peels away in patches.

English sycamore bark

Sycamore Maple Tree (Acer pseudoplatanus)

Sycamore maple trees are huge trees with a reddish bark. The leaves of Sycamore maples are five-lobed, and the bark is flaking and reveals inner orange bark. They grow to 115 feet (35 meters) in height. This tree species belongs to the genus Acer, which refers to one of the maple tree types, despite its name of sycamore.

Sycamore maplestrees grow in zones 4 to 7 and are also known as plane tree maplestrees. They prefer to grow in the shade of big trees in full sun, which they do best in Europe. The sycamore maple, on the other hand, has no autumn color in its leaves, unlike other species of Maple trees.

Sycamore maples don’t produce ball-shaped fruit since they aren’t in the genus Platanus. Winged fruit with a tiny seed is found on Sycamore maples. Sycamore maple seed, which looks a bit like rotating helicopter blades, grows in a horseshoe pattern and frequently falls to the ground.

Sycamore maple fruit

Sycamore tree leaves: The dark green leaves of the sycamore maple tree have five lobes with shallow clefts between them. The leaves of the sycamore maple tree may be up to 6 inches (15 cm) broad.

Sycamore maple leaves

Sycamore tree bark: The smooth, gray bark of the sycamore maple is particularly noteworthy. The bark of a mature maple tree gets rough and scaly as it ages. The bark peels, giving the trunk a patchy appearance, as it does in most sycamore or maple species.

Sycamore maple bark

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