Buttonwood Sycamore Buttonball Plane Tree
=Habitat and Range.=--Near streams, river bottoms, and low, damp woods.
Maine,--apparently restricted to York county; New Hampshire,--Merrimac
valley towards the coast; along the Connecticut as far as Walpole;
Vermont,--scattering along the river shores, quite abundant along the
Hoosac in Pownal (Eggleston); Massachusetts,--occasional; Rhode Island
and Connecticut,--rather common.
South to Florida; west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.
=Habit.=--A tree of the first magnitude, 50-100 feet and upwards in
height, with a diameter of 3-8 feet; reaching in the rich alluvium of
the Ohio and Mississippi valleys a maximum of 125 feet in height and a
diameter of 20 feet; the largest tree of the New England forest,
conspicuous by its great height, massive trunk and branches, and by its
magnificent, wide-spreading, dome-shaped or pyramidal, open head. The
sunlight, streaming through the large-leafed, rusty foliage, reveals the
curiously mottled patchwork bark; and the long-stemmed, globular fruit
swings to every breeze till spring comes again.
The lower branches are often very long and almost horizontal, and the
branchlets frequently have a tufted, broom-like appearance, due probably
to the action of a fungous disease on the young growth.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk and large branches dark greenish-gray, sometimes
rough and closely adherent, but usually flaking off in broad, thin,
brittle scales, exposing the green or buff inner bark, which becomes
nearly white on exposure; branchlets light brown, sometimes ridgy
towards the ends, marked with numerous inconspicuous dots.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds short, ovate, obtuse, enclosed in the
swollen base of a petiole, and, after the fall of the leaf, encircled
by the leaf-scar. Leaves simple, alternate, 5-6 inches long, 7-10 wide,
pubescent on both sides when young, at maturity light rusty-green above,
light green beneath, finally smooth, turning yellow in autumn,
coriaceous; outline reniform; margin coarse-toothed or sinuate-lobed,
the short lobes ending in a sharp point; base heart-shaped to nearly
truncate; leafstalk 1-2 inches long, swollen at the base; stipules
sheathing, often united, forming a sort of ruffle.
=Inflorescence.=--May. In crowded spherical heads; flowers of both kinds
with insignificant calyx and corolla,--sterile heads from terminal or
lateral buds of the preceding season, on short and pendulous stems;
stamens few, usually 4, anthers 2-celled: fertile heads from shoots of
the season, on long, slender stems, made up of closely compacted ovate
ovaries with intermingled scales, ovaries surmounted by hairy one-sided
recurved styles, with bright red stigmas.
=Fruit.=--In heads, mostly solitary, about 1 inch in diameter,
persistent till spring: nutlets small, hairy, 1-seeded.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; prefers a deep,
rich, loamy soil near water, but grows in almost any situation; of more
rapid growth than almost any other native tree, and formerly planted
freely in ornamental grounds and on streets, but fungous diseases
disfigure it so seriously, and the late frosts so often kill the young
leaves that it is now seldom obtainable in nurseries; usually propagated
from seed. The European plane, now largely grown in some nurseries, is a
1. Winter buds.
2. Flowering branch with sterile and fertile heads.
5. Fruiting branch.
7. Bud with enclosing base of leafstalk.
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