The sycamore is a grand, stately shade tree for a larger site. It has broad green leaves but is most recognizable by its peeling bark, with patches of white and gray. Native to the Chicago region, sycamores have very high wildlife value, attracting a wide range of birds that use the tree for many purposes.
- Chicago area
- North America
- City parkway
- Wide median
- Residential and parks
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Zone 9
- Alkaline soil
- Wet soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Attractive bark
- Showy fruit
- Mid winter
- Late winter
- Late spring
- Insect pollinators
- Small mammals
Size & Form
A large deciduous tree reaching 60 to 75 feet high and wide in home landscapes, it can be larger in the wild.
Thick, massive trunks with wide spreading crowns. Forest grown trees have narrower crowns and longer trunks.
Tree & Plant Care
Plants grow best in moist, deep, rich well-drained soil in full sun. Does not tolerate shady sites.
Soil pH adaptable, moderately salt and drought tolerant
Do not grow sycamore near septic fields.
Can be a messy tree since drops a lot of leaves, twigs and fruit.
Disease, pests, and problems
Can be affected by anthracnose, leafspots, aphids, plant bug, scales, bagworm, and borers.
Young plants can be susceptible to frost cracks.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Tolerant of high pH soil
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to eastern U. S. along rivers and streams and rich bottomland.
Occassional grows in upland sites.
Attracts birds & butterflies
High wildlife value, fruit attracts purple finches, American gold finches and pine siskins.
Provides nesting cover to many birds. Many midwestern great blue heron colonies occur in blottomland sycamore stands.
Bark color and texture
Unique, gray-brown flaky scales that shed to expose mottled peeling patches of white, gray, and green. Trees become nearly white near the top of tree.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, 4 to 9 inch wide leathery leaves have 3 to 5 lobes, similar to maple.
The leaf surface is bright green and paler underneath., margins are broadly toothed.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Monoecious, with separate male and female flowers. Flowers appear in early springs with the leaves as dense globose balls on long stalks (peduncles).
Male flowers are green , females are showier, bright burgundy-red.
Not ornamentally important .
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
A singular, 1-inch, ball-like seed head hangs from long stalks. Seeds shatter during winter months.