* Leaves nearly hairless, with 3-5 large lobes, 6-10".
* Bark distinctive; mottled brown, flaking off in puzzle piece-shaped
pieces to reveal yellowish and whitish underbark.
* Fruits small, hairy, clustered tightly in long-stalked, brown, hanging
balls, 3/4-1 1/2" in diameter.
* Flowers small, globular.
* Height: 50-130'.
* Flowers April - June.
* Fruits October - winter.
* Habitat: Streambanks, lowlands.
* Range: Southeastern Canada, eastern half of the United States.
* Sycamores are considered the most massive of eastern American trees.
Native Americans used them to make, among other things, dugout canoes.
One of these canoes supposedly measured 65 feet and weighed 9000 pounds!
* Most sycamores over 100 years old are hollow inside. Wood
ducks, opossums, and raccoons often nest in the hollow, live
tree trunks. As Donald Peattie writes in his 1950 A Natural
History of Trees (319) that "...pioneers often stabled a
horse, cow, or pig in a hollow Sycamore, and sometimes a whole
family took shelter in such an hospitable giant, until the log
cabin could be raised."
* Eminent naturalist, ornithologist, and painter John James
Audubon recounts an encounter with a flock of swallows nesting
in a hollow sycamore in Kentucky:
"The sun was going down behind the Silver Hills, the evening was beautiful; thousands
of Swallows were flying closely above me, and three or four at a time were pitching
into the hole, like bees hurrying into their hive. I remained, my head leaning
on the tree, listening to the roaring noise made within by the birds as they
settled and arranged themselves, until it was quite dark..."
* The drawing at the right comes from Donald Peattie's A
Natural History of Trees, page 317.