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American Sycamore   arrow

Platanus occidentalis (plat’-a-nus ok-si-den-ta’-lis)
Family: Platanaceae, Sycamore

Key Steps


Sycamore leafLeaf: Maple-like, large, up to 10 inches wide, glossy, hairless except veins beneath. 3-7 shallow lobes, large teeth. Lobes wider than long. Petiole is 2-4 inches long, stout, with hollow base. Stipules saucer-like, toothed, encircling stem.

Bud: Inside the base of the petiole. Red/brown, cone-shaped, smooth, shiny. Single visible bud scale. True terminal bud absent.

Leaf Scar: Surrounds bud. Many bundle scars.

Stem: Stout, round zigzag. Stipule scars encircle stem. Small branches are white.

Bark: Older bark mottled, brown/white/yellow.

Pith: Pale brown, solid.

Flower: Round heads, reddish yellow on previous year’s wood.

Fruit: Brown, 1 inch diameter ball. Usually 1 smooth ball per stalk. Long (3-6 inch) fruit stalk.

Habit: Large shade tree. Irregular branching. 40+ feet tall.


London Planetree, P. x acerifolia — Very similar to Sycamore except terminal lobe is as wide as it is long or longer. Fruit usually pairs.