American Sycamore

We often park across the road from this American Sycamore tree when visiting the lake.  Over the years, I have gazed up at this grand tree and admired its beauty and stately manner. This made me want to learn more about the Sycamore.

The American Sycamore has many unique characteristics which set it apart from other trees. It is one of the tallest and most identifiable trees in our area. The thin bark of the Sycamore tree is grayish-brown. As this fast-growing tree expands, the bark sheds, exposing a patchy camouflage-colored layer beneath. The highest branches, with their wide canopy, are smooth and white and stand out strikingly against the blue sky.

The leaves of the Sycamore are serrated and flat and are made up of three to five lobes.  They can grow to an impressive 4-10 inches in width.

The Sycamore is also known as the “buttonball” or “buttonwood” tree.  It produces fruit which are about one inch in diameter, each of which hang from a single thin stem.  When the balls ripen, they fall from the tree and break open, exposing seeds which are packed inside, along with a button-like woody core to which they are attached.

Some Sycamore trees live for hundreds of years due to the strength and durability of their trunk, which enables them to withstand harsh weather conditions.  They are extremely adaptable to their environment.  Their trunk, which can become hollow with age, has been known to provide shelter for wildlife and people alike.

Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.
~Karen I. Shragg, Think Like a Tree

Source | Warren Jacobs and Karen I. Shragg (editors), Tree Stories: a Collection of Extraordinary Encounters (Sunshine Press, 2002)