||Sycamore, also called buttonwood or the American Plane Tree, is considered
one of the largest hardwood trees in North America -especially
in diameter. It may be found throughout the state but is most
abundant and grows to its largest size along streams and on rich
American sycamore is easily recognized because of its multicolored,
mottled bark. The bark on young branches is brownish. As the branch
grows, this outer bark peels away in irregular patches to expose
smooth inner bark, which may be green or olive but most often
is white. The resulting patchy pattern of bark in the branches
and upper crown is conspicuous and is characteristic of this tree.
In mature trees, bark on the lower trunk is entirely brown and
consists of small scales.
On preferred fertile sites, the tree grows fast, reaching heights
of 100 feet or more (occasionally 150 feet) and trunk diameters
of 10 feet or more. The average height ranges from 80 to 110 feet;
the diameter from 3 to 8 feet.
The leaves usually are three- to four-lobed and are divided by
broad, shallow sinuses. Leaves are 4 to 7 inches long and broad,
with palmate veining and toothed edges. Twigs grow in a zigzag
pattern. They are encircled by a toothed stipule at the base of
each leaf, where the large, pointed bud is attached. The petiole
of the leaf completely encloses the bud -- a distinctive feature
of American sycamore.
The fruit is a ball, about I inch in diameter, that breaks up
when ripe to disperse small, elongated seeds surrounded by many
fine hairs which permit them to be carried afar on the wind. The
wood is hard and moderately strong but decays rapidly in the ground.
It is used for chopping blocks, tobacco boxes, furniture, interior
finish and products such as chip board and flake board.