Bloodgood Sycamore in fall color

11/04/2013 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Tips, Trees, Uncategorized

30 second plant tip of the day – Bloodgood Sycamore in fall color


The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is one of the largest and oldest North American native trees. Its exceptionally rapid growth and immense size makes it an excellent choice as a central focal point in your yard or perhaps as a border tree. It’s tolerant of air pollution, so this tree would even thrive on a city lot.

Sycamores can be massive, growing to over 100 feet tall and with a crown of 70 feet in diameter. They have the largest diameter of any American hardwood, in some cases growing over 10 feet. This spectacular tree’s symmetrical canopy will provide you with a cool spot to sit through those hot summer days in a fraction of the time other shade trees require.

The white bark of the Sycamore tends to peel off in places, creating a unique mottled look that is sure to draw attention to your yard in any season. Many people consider them self-pruning as you will rarely see the unsightly dead branches common to the canopies of other landscape trees. The unneeded wood from your Sycamore will even make excellent mulch for your flower beds.

Native Americans used Sycamores for many medicinal purposes, and the seed balls are prized by crafters today. The Sycamore decorates itself for winter with 1 inch brown spiky balls hanging from 3-6 inch “threads”. These seed balls will appear all over your tree. In the spring they will fall to the ground, ready to be made into holiday ornaments, wreaths, bird feeders…whatever your imagination can create.

With an expected age of 250 years or more, planting a Sycamore is like leaving a legacy for the generations to come.