Plant of the Month, February 2019: Western Sycamore

Western Sycamore

Platanus racemosa

The Western Sycamore is a plane tree found in our Children's Woodland and Butterfly Loop.  Birds love perching on its high branches.  The Western Sycamore can grow to be more than 115 feet tall, but they usually average out between 65 - 85 ft in height, with a trunk diameter of up to 3 feet.  The trunk generally divides into two or more large trunks splitting into many branches. You can identify a sycamore from its beautiful bark - with areas of white, pinkish gray, and pale tan.  Older bark on the tree becomes darker and peels away to make room for new bark.  Western sycamore leaves can be extremely large, up to 10 in. wide. The plant is deciduous, meaning its leaves turn an attractive yellow and orangish brown and fall in the autumn. They have rather plain-looking flowers - 1 in. spheres that becomes seed balls. 

  • Tough and easy to grow, but require a lot of water.
  • Almost always found in wetland-riperian settings or adjacent to drier habitats such as chaparral, valley grassland, mixed woodlands or evergreen forests.
  • It tolerates a wide variety of soils, and prefers to have its leaves in full sun.
  • They grow quickly if given plenty of water, often growing to 30 feet in just five years.

How you can help, right now