Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis
Platanaceae or Sycamore Family
Tree in winter

Very large tree to 130 feet tall. Bark brown, peeling in older trees, to reveal yellowish and whitish underbark, giving the tree the appearance of a jigsaw puzzle. Leaves large, broad, with 3 to 5 lobes and large teeth, somewhat resembling maple leaves. The undersides of the leaves have strongly marked veins and whitish fuzz. Bases of leafstalks with leaf-like structutes (stipules) that clasp the stem. Flowers are tiny, reddish, in spherical green heads, generally high in the tree, in spring. Fruits spherical clusters of seeds on long stalks, often most noticeable in the winter when leaves have fallen. In spring the balls of seeds fall and begin to disintegrate into individual tufted seeds, as at bottom. When all the seeds have fallen a small round intricately marked core remains and may sometimes be found in the leaf litter.

Considered the most massive native tree of the eastern US. Grows along rivers and streams, and in low, moist areas. Common in Wildwood, especially along Connelly's Run.

The jig-saw bark and ball-shaped flowers and fruits are distinctive. The leaves might be mistaken for maple leaves, but are usually larger and broader. Maple leaves also lack the strong veins and fuzz underneath and the large stipules.


Underside of leaf 

Stipules at base of leaf


Disintegrating fruits
Core of Fruit


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