What is the American Sycamore?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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An American sycamore tree is one of the largest, bulkiest trees that grows in the eastern portion of North America. Some American sycamore tree have trunks that have diameters of up to 15 feet (4.57 meters). This tree is deciduous, which means it loses its leaves in the autumn.

The leaves of an American sycamore tree are broad and grow to be about four to eight inches (10.16 to 20.32 centimeters) in length and width, with spiky or wavy edges along the perimeter of each leaf. Sycamore tree leaves are often called palmate, which means they are shaped like the palm of a hand. Attached to a long stalk, they have three or five lobes, which are sections that can be thought of as fingers on a person’s hand. This tree’s leaves are a vibrant green on the top portion of the leaf and a pale green underneath; they turn brown during the autumn months.

American sycamore trees bear fruit, but this isn’t the type of fruit a person would eat. Its fruits are ball-shaped brown seeds that hang from their own stems. Each seed is usually about one to one and a half inches (2.54 to 3.81 centimeters) around.


Some people suggest that the bark on the trunk of an American sycamore tree resembles camouflage. That is because the trunk features bark sections that peel away to reveal tan, white, gray, and green shades of bark. Sometimes, portions of this tree’s bark may even appear yellowish. The outer bark of the sycamore tree is typically rough while the inner bark is smooth.

There are many places a person may visit to see American sycamore trees. They grow in forests and are often planted in parks. They thrive where soil is moist, so they are often founds near streams and lakes. Many people appreciate the beauty of the American sycamore tree, as well as its shade, and use them in landscaping projects. For this reason, they can be found lining streets, in yards, and on some school campuses.

American sycamore trees can grow to be quite large. Often, they reach heights of 100 feet (30.48 meters), though they’ve been known to reach 200 feet (60.96 meters) tall. They live for a very long time as well, living as long as 500 years. This type of tree has a long history. In fact, scientists have found sycamore tree fossils that date back millions of years.



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