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The Sycamore Or Plane Tree (platanus Occidentalis)

Distinguishing characters: The peculiar *mottled appearance* of the

*bark* (Fig. 48) in the trunk and large branches is the striking

character here. The bark produces this effect by shedding in large,

thin, brittle plates. The newly exposed bark is of a yellowish green

color which often turns nearly white later on. *Round seed balls*,

about an inch in diameter, may be seen hanging on the tree all

winter. In this species, the seed balls are usually solitary, while

in the Oriental sycamore, a European tree similar to the native one,

they appear in clusters of two, or occasionally of three or four.

See Fig. 49.

Leaf: The stem of the leaf completely covers the bud. This is a

characteristic peculiar to sycamores.

Form and size: A large tree with massive trunk and branches and a broad


Range: Eastern and southern United States.

Soil and location: Prefers a deep rich soil, but will adapt itself even

to the poor soil of the city street.

Enemies: The sycamore is frequently attacked by a fungus (_Gloeosporium

nervisequum_), which curls up the young leaves and kills the tips of

the branches. Late frosts also often injure its young twigs. The

Oriental sycamore, which is the European species, is more hardy in

these respects than the native one and is therefore often chosen as

a substitute.

Value for planting: The Occidental sycamore is now planted very little,

but the Oriental sycamore is used quite extensively in its place,

especially as a shade tree. The Oriental sycamore is superior to the

native species in many ways. It is more shapely, faster growing, and

hardier than the native one. Both sycamores will bear transplanting

and pruning well.

Commercial value: The wood of the sycamore is coarse-grained and hard to

work; used occasionally for inside finishing in buildings.

Other names: _Buttonball_, _buttonwood_.

Comparisons: The _Oriental sycamore_ (_Platanus orientalis_) an

introduced species, is apt to be confused with the Occidental

sycamore, but may be told from the latter by the number of seed

balls suspended from the tree. In the case of the Oriental species,

the seed balls hang in _pairs_ or (rarely) three or four together.

In the Occidental, the seed balls are generally _solitary_ and very

rarely in pairs.

Tree Studies

How To Identify Trees
Group I The Pines
The White Pine (pinus Strobus)
The Pitch Pine (pinus Rigida)
The Scotch Pine (pinus Sylvestris)
Group Ii The Spruce And Hemlock
The Norway Spruce (picea Excelsa)
Hemlock (tsuga Canadensis)
Group Iii The Red Cedar And Arbor-vitae
Red Cedar (juniperus Virginiana)
Arbor-vitae; Northern White Cedar (thuja Occidentalis)
Group Iv The Larch And Cypress
The European Larch (larix Europaea)
Bald Cypress (taxodium Distichum)
Group V The Horsechestnut, Ash And Maple
The Horsechestnut
The White Ash (fraxinus Americana)
Sugar Maple (acer Saccharum)
Silver Maple (acer Saccharinum)
Red Maple (acer Rubrum)
Norway Maple (acer Platanoides)
Box Elder (acer Negundo)
Group Vi Trees Told By Their Form: Elm, Poplar, Gingko And Willow
American Elm (ulmus Americana)
Lombardy Or Italian Poplar (populus Nigra, Var Italica)
Gingko Or Maidenhair Tree (gingko Biloba)
Weeping Willow (salix Babylonica)
Group Vii Trees Told By Their Bark Or Trunk: Sycamore, Birch, Beech,
Blue Beech, Ironwood, And Hackberry
The Sycamore Or Plane Tree (platanus Occidentalis)
Gray Or White Birch (betula Populifolia)
American Beech (fagus Americana)
Blue Beech Or Hornbeam (carpinus Caroliniana)
Hackberry (celtis Occidentalis)
Group Viii The Oaks And Chestnut
White Oak (quercus Alba)
Black Oak (quercus Velutina)
Red Oak (quercus Rubra)
Pin Oak (quercus Palustris)
Chestnut (castanea Dentata)
Group Ix The Hickories, Walnut And Butternut
Shagbark Hickory (hicoria Ovata)
Mockernut Hickory (hicoria Alba)
Black Walnut (juglans Nigra)
Group X Tulip Tree, Sweet Gum, Linden, Magnolia, Locust, Catalpa,
Dogwood, Mulberry And Osage Orange
Tulip Tree (liriodendron Tulipifera)
Sweet Gum (liquidambar Styraciflua)
American Linden (tilia Americana)
The Magnolias