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Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees

American sycamore or plane tree (Platanus occidentalis)

Large trees

American sycamore or plane tree

  • Maximum height
    100 feet
  • Relative growth rate
  • Freedom from insect pests
  • Freedom from disease problems
  • Resistance to storm damage
  • Will grow on poorly drained soil
  • Will grow in hot, dry areas
  • Easy to transplant
  • Withstands city conditions

The most striking feature of the sycamore is its flaking bark that peels off to reveal the lighter-colored underbark. It is considered a dirty tree, as it is continuously dropping bark and twigs that need to be picked up. A twig blight that temporarily disfigures the foliage attacks sycamore almost every spring. It will seldom kill the tree, but it certainly reduces its value as an ornamental. Sycamore is a fast-growing tree that will reach an immense size. It is much too large for the average home grounds. It needs a deep, rich soil to develop properly.

If a sycamore is desired, the European species, London plane tree, or the Asiatic species, Oriental plane tree, is a much better choice than the native American species. They are resistant to the twig blight and do not reach as large a size.


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