The American sycamore is a grand, picturesque tree if well placed in the landscape. This large deciduous tree is naturally distributed across the eastern half of North America, from Maine to Florida, so it is beneficial to grow from local stock. It is a lowland tree that’s adapted to soils that become flooded intermittently throughout the season. Happy trees can survive for hundreds of years.
Sycamores are best known for their beautiful bark and elegantly irregular branching patterns. The multicolored flaking bark is in overlapping shades of brown, gray, creamy beige, and white. The younger branches tend to have more white and the twigs are orange-brown with a zigzagged appearance. The broad, open limbs of mature specimens can almost look contorted and the trunks become thick and protruding in very old specimens.
Sycamore leaves are almost maple-like but appear broader, larger and have sharper, more acute tips. They are bright green when they emerge in spring, deepen to dark green by summer and turn golden tan in fall. Each has three to five-lobes. The flower clusters appear in spring when the leaves emerge. The inconspicuous blooms are male or female, reddish and appear in clusters across the branches. The golf ball-sized fruits that follow turn from green to light brown and decorate the branches into winter until they finally fall and shatter into fluffy filaments.
Plant American sycamore in full sun and sites with moist, fertile soil. It does demonstrate considerable tolerance for drier and the more shallow soils associated with residential suburbs, as well as seaside gardens. This tree develops substantial surface roots so it should not be planted too closely to buildings or sidewalks, which will buckle under pressure. Another caveat to planting sycamore is its susceptibility to anthracnose. Infected trees show their symptoms in varying degrees. Usually, they leave out late, their leaves are blotched and badly infected trees tend to drop their leaves early—sometimes in early summer.
This is a specatular shade tree for large, open lawns and spacious avenues. Be sure to plant it away from highly trafficked public areas. Their fruits can be annoying in more pristine neighborhoods and drop on parked cars. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Platanus
Species - Occidentalis
Common name - American Planetree
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 4 - 9
Height - 70'-100' / 21 - 30 m
Spread - 65'-100' / 20 - 30 m
Plant type - Tree
Vegetation type - Deciduous
Exposure - Full Sun
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral
Soil type - Clay, laom, Sand, well drained
Water requirements - Drought tolerant, average water
Landscape uses - Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees
Bloom season - Spring
Leaf / Flower color - Green, Dark Green / Orange Red, Dark Salmon
1. Fill a plastic bag with sharp river sand or vermiculite. Drizzle water over the sand while mixing it by hand to evenly moisten it. Bury the sycamore seeds in the moistened sand. Seal the bag.
2. Store the sycamore seeds in the moistened sand for 90 days inside a refrigerator to cold stratify them and prompt germination. Remove the seeds from cold storage once the growing containers are prepared.
3. Dig up soil from the garden bed where the sycamore trees will be planted using a garden spade. Mix three parts garden soil with one part sharp river sand to create a suitable planting mix for the sycamore seeds. Fill nursery containers with the soil and sand mixture for each sycamore tree desired.
4. Sow two sycamore seeds in each pot to a depth of 6 mm (1/4"). Water each pot to a depth of 8 cm (3").
5. Place the pots outdoors in a sunny spot for the winter. Moisten the soil only if little or no rain falls for a long period of time.
6. Watch for signs of germination the following spring when outdoor air temperatures rise above +18 C (65F) in 15 to 20 days. Move the pots to a spot with dappled shade during the hottest part of the day once the seedlings reach 2 cm (1") in height.
7. Thin the sycamore seedlings to one per pot once they grow a set of mature leaves. Remove the smaller or less robust seedling. (info source: eHow.com)
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