Platanus occidentalis

Sycamore, American Planetree




  • native to eastern half of United States
  • hardy to zone 4

Habit and Form

  • a large, deciduous tree
  • pyramidal in youth
  • broad, rounded crown when mature
  • 75' to 90' tall
  • 60' to 70' wide
  • coarse texture
  • rapid growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • simple, deciduous leaves
  • 3 to 5 lobed margins
  • ovate leaf shape
  • 6" to 10" long
  • medium green leaf color

Autumn Foliage

  • turning yellow-brown


  • monoecious, with separate male and female flowers
  • deep red flowers
  • blooms in late March
  • not ornamentally important


  • rounded, tannish brown fruit
  • 1" in diameter
  • fuzzy looking
  • found solitarily
  • showy
  • persist


  • exfoliating bark
  • low branched
  • showy
  • stout stems
  • red to gray-brown color
  • white inner bark
  • zigzag stems


  • moist, deep, rich well-drained soil
  • full sun
  • moderately salt and drought tolerant

Landscape Use

  • lawn tree
  • street tree when large spaces are available
  • good for difficult growing sites
  • good urban tree
  • for shade
  • for decoration from showy bark


  • can be pollarded and pleached readily
  • canker strains is a serious problem
  • anthracnose
  • cold injury in harsh winters
  • powdery mildew
  • American plum borer
  • sycamore lacebug
  • can lift sidewalks
  • fruit can be a litter problem
  • bacterial leaf scorch

ID Features

  • no terminal bud
  • buds are conical, 0.25" long, blunt pointed and dark reddish brown
  • leaf scars completely surround the buds
  • exfoliating bark
  • has creamy white inner bark
  • solitary fruits


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Howard' - The new foliage of this mutation emerges bright yellow, but fades as the summer progreses. A hard-to-find novelty.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.