Platanus occidentalis L.

  • Family: Platanaceae
  • Common name: sycamore

    Tree to 25 m (80 ft) tall and 1 m (3 ft) or more in diameter, with a broad irregular crown. Bark dark brown and furrowed into ridges on lower trunk, smoothish and white on upper trunk and branches, shedding in large plates to expose smooth green or gray patches. Twigs slender, orange brown, hairy when young. Buds small, orange, covered by one shiny scale, and hidden by the enlarged base of the long leaf stalk. Leaves broadly ovate or rounded, 10-20 cm (4-8 in) in diameter, with 3 or 5 shallow short-pointed lobes, and with scattered large teeth on the margins. Flowers and fruits are small and numerous in tight ball-like clusters which are 25 mm (1 in) or more in diameter when mature and remain on the tree until spring.

    Distribution: Native to about the eastern half of the United States.
    Comment: Sycamore is a fast-growing hardy tree and is extensively used as a shade tree in Oklahoma. The moderately strong fine-textured wood is used for furniture and specialty items such as brush handles and butcher blocks. Platanus is the old Latin name for the European species of the genus; occidentalis means "western", and is a designation that Linnaeus used several times to distinguish North American plants from closely related European species.
    Habitat: bottomland forests, lake shores, and river banks
    NWI status: FAC+

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/15/99
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