What it is not is London Plane Tree. That is a hybrid cross of the Plantanus occicentalis and Plantanus orientalis-- Platanus x acerifolia. There are a couple easy ways to tell one from the other. One is that the Sycamore has single seed balls hanging from the stem. The London Plane Tree has at least two if not three clustered seed pods/balls. The other difference is the London Plane Tree's bark coloring has more yellow instead of white.
And now, more about the Sycamore--
It is a native tree to the eastern part of the United States. It is hardy to zone 4. The tree is a long lived tree, some specimen living upwards of 250 years. It reaches 60- 90 feet in height and can get very large in diameter. Some of my references say the diameter can be 10 feet! Case in point, this is a very mature Sycamore at the JMU Arboretum . I took these pictures last spring. I can't tell you how old this tree is--- however, it is obviously quite old.
The bark, as mentioned above is a striking feature of this great tree. On young trees the bark is mottled with exfoliating bark. Some say the tree looks as if the trunk is whitewashed. As the tree ages the bark becomes darker and ridged, though the upper reaches of the crown are still smooth and white and tan mottled in appearance.
The crown of the tree can spread 60- 70 feet wide. It is pyramid shaped as a young tree, round when mature.
There are both male and female flowers on the same tree, making it monoecious. The seed pods are soft fluffy balls, hanging from a stem.
In the winter these seed pods stand out against the sky. This is another tree that is one whose fruit stands out in the winter along with the Sweetgum. The flowers bloom in March, though they are not ornamentally important.
The leaves are shaped like maple leaves, except quite large. They are simple, 3-5 lobed margins, some of my sources say the leaf is 6"- 10" across, while other sights claim it came be as large as 15" across. The fall color is yellow to brown, not terribly exciting.
This tree can be found in the bottom lands and quite often is a pioneer tree in an open field. While it likes the moist soils of bottom lands, it cannot handle extended periods of immersion.
The Sycamore is a fast growing tree and its lumber, while used in furniture and interior trim work, the wood is hard and twisted grain.
The birds and small animals of the woodlands eat the seeds, though it is not a major food source.
References- UConn, North Carolina Wildlife Nature Center, Vanderbilt, VTech, Forestry Service, and Floridata. All are great sources of information, photos, and scientific data.
Next week I will have many of the updated photos from trees previously written about. Come and see some fall foliage or spring blooms or new fruits.words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.