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American Sycamore

American Sycamore Tree
The sycamore is commonly confused with the London plane tree, because of their similarly patterned, mottled, exfoliating bark. Telling them apart is easier when the trees are mature. Older American sycamore trees maintain a thick band of dark bark at their base, with stark white upper branches, while London plane bark exfoliates all the way down to the roots giving the tree a mottled, almost camouflage appearance. The American sycamore is native to the United States, and is one of the trees used to hybridize the London Plane. It is commonly found near waterbodies like streams and ponds, or where the water table is close to the surface. Another common name for the American sycamore is the "buttonwood tree." Today's New York Stock Exchange was started beneath an American sycamore on Wall Street, and the document establishing the exchange was called the Buttonwood Agreement.

Common Name: American Sycamore

Scientific Name: Platanus occidentalis

Origin: Eastern half of the United States

Family: Platanaceae

Size: 75 - 90' tall, 60 - 70' wide

Form: Pyramidal in youth

Culture: Moist, deep, rich, well-drained soil; thrives in full sun; moderately drought and salt tolerant


6 - 10" long, alternate arrangement, simple, three to five lobes


Separate male and female flowers


1" diameter; rounded, tannish-brown; found solitary


Surface sheds in layers, low branched, white inner bark, zigzag stems