American Sycamore


Often called a “camouflage tree” because of its mottled bark and yellow-brown colors in the fall, the American sycamore is an impressive tree that is well adapted to city life and is one of the largest trees in the eastern United States.

This tree is eligible for a $100 Tree Rebate.

More detail: American sycamores’s Tree of the Month.

Common Name
American sycamore

Latin Name
Platanus occidentalis

Alternate, simple, with 3 to 5 lobes; margins coarsely toothed; broad base

Ball-shaped, with stickly red-colored petals extending from the surface

Hard, brown, oval/oblong sphere with short soft spikes

Zigzag, quite stout and orange-brown in color; leaf scar surrounds the bud and the stipule scar surrounds the twig; terminal bud is absent; lateral buds are reddish, resinous, with a single, cap-like scale

Thin, mottled brown, green, tan and white; older stems are gray-brown and scaly; often referred to as camouflage and readily exfoliates

Symmetrical canopy with a regular (or smooth) outline, round; spreading; pyramidal

Typically grows 75 to 90 feet tall and 50 to 70 feet wide

Native Range
Grows in all states east of the Great Plains except for Minnesota

Large deciduous tree

Seasonal Colors
Rapidly turns from green to yellow and then brown in the fall

Grows best in moist or wet alluvial* soils

Prefers full sunlight

Similar Species
London planetree, Oriental planetree, California sycamore

Pests and Diseases
Subject to bouts of anthracnose, causing large leaf falls. Aphids and sycamore lace bugs cause damage but are not fatal; however, bacterial leaf scorch can kill a tree in a few seasons.

Rebate Eligibility

Of Note
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.

Sycamores grow quickly and can live for hundreds of years.

Very often it divides into two or more trunks near the ground and its massive branches form a wide, irregular crown.

Coloring of mottling, leaf teeth/sinuses all different. Seed pods single vs pair in planetree.

Photo Credits

Tie Guy II(2)