American Sycamore*

American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Planting Site:

American sycamore, probably the largest tree native to eastern North America, is a fast-growing species with scaly gray-brown bark that exfoliates to reveal a smooth ghostly white inner layer. It is a deciduous tree that typically grows to 75–100 feet tall with horizontal branching and a rounded habit. This tree develops a massive trunk and broad canopy that casts a dense shade. Adapted to wet sites, sycamores are tolerant of adverse soil conditions but may be messy in the landscape. The large medium to dark green leaves have coarse marginal teeth. In fall, foliage typically turns an undistinguished yellow-brown. Small flowers appear in small rounded clusters in April. Its wood has been commercially used for a variety of products including furniture, cabinets, barrels, crates, and butcher blocks, and Native Americans hollowed out trunk sections for dugout canoes.

Illinois native species.




Platanus occidentalisPlatanus occidentalisPlatanus occidentalis


Street: Appropriate for restricted size planting sites; recommended by the City of Chicago Urban Tree Planting List
Park/Residential: Appropriate for landscaped planting sites including public parks, residential property, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.
Legacy: For plantings with an expected life span of more than 60 years; retained 50 percent or more climate suitability in models for the decade 2080
N/R +35 yrs: Not recommended for plantings with an expected life span of more than 35 years