Sycamore trees, also called plane trees, are among the most common shade trees planted in the United States and Europe. Our native plane tree, Platanus racemosa, is a unique individual in the sycamore family. Found only in this region of the country, it is a historic component of the California landscape of streamsides, rocky canyons, moist valleys, and arid foothills.
The tree reflects California’s wild nature with its unpredictable growth, contorted and low spreading branches or leaning trunk (s). Always graceful, the tree grows very fast with a height reaching 30 – 80 feet tall. The canopy spread can be 20-50 feet wide, and a massive trunk is built in the process. These trees can have a very long life span, with horticulturalists documenting some specimens living up to 400 years.
Native Americans utilized the California sycamore for more than just shade and aesthetics. Records show that the inner bark was used for food and medicinal tonic, leaves were used to wrap bread during baking, and limbs and branches were used in house construction. Today, we use sycamore tree wood, classified as a hardwood, most frequently for veneer (e.g. lacewood), butcher’s blocks, furniture and pulpwood.
Despite its geographic isolation, Platanus racemosa remains strong in its ability to survive and thrive regardless of various pressures from human management, environmental shifts and ecological changes taking place around it.
Sycamores have the largest leaves of any native tree in North America with 5 long, distinct lobes extending more than half the length of the blade. Occasionally a leaf can be 10 inches wide, but most are 7-8 inches wide. The base of the short leaf stalk is held by a distinct two-pointed green structure called a stipule that can be used to help identify our indigenous species against its smaller cousin, the London Plane tree.
In spring, when the first flush of leaves begin to unfurl, they may be subject to anthracnose, a fungal disease that causes some of the leaves to curl up. While it looks disfiguring, it is not fatal, and the tree will recover without intervention. In autumn, leaves turn a subtle yellowish brown before falling off.
The most noticeable feature of this tree is the patchy brown, gray and white bark that peels off to reveal a smooth, almost pure white inner bark. Older bark is thicker (1-3 inches), furrowed and dark brown. A common pest found inside the bark is the Sycamore borer (Synanthedon resplendens) that creates exit holes in the rough bark from May through July after overwintering as larvae in tunnels within the bark. The tell-tale sign is the sawdust like frass in crevices and around the tree base. Sycamore trees can tolerate very high populations of these insects without threat to tree health. The bark also serves as a food source for beavers and fox squirrels.
Flowers & Fruit
Tiny male and female flowers are borne in dense, round heads and look like fuzzy marbles on a string. These flowers produce fruit in the form of seed balls, three to seven along a single stem, designed to fracture when the seed reaches maturity.
These seeds have short, cinnamon-colored hairs that act as parachutes helping with wind dispersion of tiny seeds. The seed balls are then utilized by squirrels and small rodents, while the seeds provide food for purple finch, goldfinch, and other species of birds.
Mistletoe is often found in the California sycamore, and is commonly brought to the trees by the birds that find shelter there. This parasitic plant provides food for many species of animals in our urban community including bluebirds, Lawrence’s goldfinch, and the great purple hairstreak butterfly.
The larvae of the Western tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio rutulus) also depends on the sycamore for its home-offering protection from summer sun and nutrients to the developing larva as the caterpillar becomes an adult.
Tell your family and friends about the significance of this beautiful tree and its invaluable role in a sustainable environment that we all need to protect.
Protect & Enjoy
Protecting our native trees requires our active partnership and contribution to the common goal of resource management. Oak, sycamore, and bay trees hold a unique place in our local ecosystem and provide habitat for 81 species of resident and migratory birds.
Urbanization continues to present a challenge within the sustainable capability of the ecosystem. Open spaces, clean air and homes for wildlife are worth protecting, but will demand support for the native trees existence in the local landscape.How to determine body fat percentage? How to plant glow berries in minecraft? What are the astrological signs? Tips when stuck on sudoku? What decade are we in? How to do surf tricks? What are the symptoms of a faulty map sensor? What does am stand for? What do yellow hearts mean? How to make pudding? Why does acid make you feel like people are playing tricks on you? what is bing rewards helper chrome How to figure out ring size? How to clean a shower head? Where can i watch new tricks for free? How to lose belly fat in a week? How long to deep fry turkey? What playoff games are on today? What does the putting all your finger tips together mean? what does a welders helper do grind How to pass a hair drug test? What does bull market mean? How to draw a koala? What does postmarked mean? Tips for learning how to program online? Why do the tips of a peace lily turn brown? What does wok mean? What is the meaning of the word leisure? What does inhibition mean? What does it mean when a home is under contract? how to improve hamburger helper stroganoff What does the name walter mean? How to make friends? What are theories? 10 tricks how to get college degree? How to get rid of mucus in throat fast? Meaning of adele when we were young? How to file for disability? What is a pork brickt rib tips? What is the meaning of effect and affect? How to borrow money from cash app? What is narrative meaning? What does repetition mean? What does class d mean on driver's license? What is the meaning of an upside-down pineapple? How to clean your ear without q tips? What is the spiritual meaning of crickets? What does high white blood cells mean? What does amos mean in text? How to cook steel cut oats? Tips when applying for a job? How to put french tips on nails? how to hire an in-home helper What time does costco open on saturday? What is the meaning of teacher by word? What is sapiosexual? What does hydrochlorothiazide do? What is the meaning of tfw? What tricks can i teach my conure? What happens if you get caight taking tips while driving for uber? What does a flashing check engine light mean? How to make flan? How to download a youtube video? How to tell if you have pink eye? What are the multiples of 7? What does carpool mean? How to scan with iphone? How to remove red filter on silhouette challenge reddit? What does category mean? What does it mean to have green poop? How fast can dogs learn tricks? What words do magicians use when they do tricks? How to get chlamydia? What to make with tenderloin tips? How to do easy yoyo tricks for beginners? What is the meaning of humble in the bible? How to get a free credit report? How to set up screen record? What is the meaning behind 222? How to make bolo tips? What are the 50 states? What is the meaning of the end of the fallout? How to convert a fraction to a decimal? What does ginkgo biloba do? What is the meaning when you see a hummingbird? How to get over a break up? How to get rid of pimples fast? How to calculate surface area? What does gain of function mean? What is the meaning of an evil eye? What does stg mean in snapchat? What does npt mean? What is an audit? How to remove gel polish? What does being asexual mean? How to draw a barn? What are the symptoms of a gallbladder attack? Https://www.dominosugar.com/baking-tips-how-tos/measurement-and-conversion-charts? What does acrostic mean? What is it called when a guy frosts her tips? What does short sale mean? What does cunning mean?