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Platanus occidentalis (photo courtesy of UrbanImages/Alamy)
Platanus occidentalis (photo courtesy of UrbanImages/Alamy)

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Zone
Zones 1-24
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Platanus occidentalis

American Sycamore, Buttonwood
Platanaceae
Deciduous, Trees

PLATANUS

These trees are all large, with a heavy trunk (or trunks) and a sculptural branch pattern. Older bark sheds in patches to reveal pale, smooth new bark beneath. Big, rough-surfaced leaves (to 10 in. across) have three to five lobes and resemble maple (Acer) leaves. Fall foliage color is yellowish to brown, not striking. Ball-shaped brown seed clusters, usually on threadlike stalks, hang on the bare branches through winter; these are prized for winter arrangements. Best in rich, deep, moist, well-drained soil. All are subject to anthracnose, which causes early leaf drop and twig dieback. Rake up and dispose of dead leaves, since fungus spores can overwinter on them. Chlorosis may be a problem in the desert.

Platanus occidentalis

Native to the eastern U.S. Has a long leafless period. Irregular habit, contorted branches. Occasionally grows with multiple or leaning trunks. Old trees near streams sometimes reach huge size. Best in a large wild garden.

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