American sycamore

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Platanus occidentalis
AMERICAN SYCAMORE
Platanaceae
E. North America

Location: map coordinates P-19 (near northwest corner of Delaware Hall), N 39°11'8'' W 75°32'37''

Planting history: presently unknown.

Description:
  • large deciduous tree
  • etymology: Platanus from the Greek name for a species of plane tree (platanos) for the flat leaves; occidentalis = western
  • also known as buttonwood
  • leaves 3-5 lobed, with large teeth; leaf base covers bud
  • monoecious (separate male and female flowers on same tree); flowers small, clustered in round unisexual balls
  • fruits round “buttonballs”, dangling; always single (not in 2’s); fall apart at maturity; seeds eaten by only a few wildlife species like purple finch
  • bark very recognizable; falls off in large plates leaving a camouflage-like appearance; underbark pale greenish-grey to almost white, whitish-yellowish
  • most massive tree of the eastern USA; Indians used trunks for canoes
  • resembles the hybrid London plane (Platanus ×acerifolia), but American sycamore fruits are all single (none in 2’s), inner bark color is more white (less yellowish/greenish), and much more susceptible to anthracnose in springtime
  • native habitat floodplains, swamps, woods
  • major host of the native sycamore lace bug (Corythucha ciliata)

Native species, State Rank S5 (very common in Delaware)
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