How big does a sycamore tree grow

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The sycamore (Platanus species) is a deciduous tree that is often grown for the shade it produces and the handsome bark on its massive trunk. There are 10 species, but this fact sheet will focus on one species and one hybrid that are common to South Carolina: American planetree (Platanus occidentalis) and London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia.) Both are adapted to all areas of South Carolina.

London planetree bark.
Karen Russ, ©2006 HGIC, Clemson Extension

General Information on Sycamores

Mature Height/Spread: Sycamore is a massive tree that grows 70 to 100 feet tall with a similar spread. It has a pyramidal form in youth but develops a spreading, rounded and irregular crown with age.

Growth Rate: This tree grows at a moderate to rapid rate, and has a moderate to long life span.

Ornamental Features: Sycamores are valued for their massive size and are often used as shade trees. The cream- to olive-colored exfoliating bark is handsome in all seasons, but it is exceptional in winter when contrasted with the dark bark of other trees in a woodland setting. The leaf size varies, even on the same tree, and the fall color is yellow-brown. The 1-inch fruit hang from the tree on long stalks through most of the winter.

Landscape Use: Sycamores are too big for most home properties. They are primarily used for parks, large-scale landscapes or naturalized plantings along streams. They have been used extensively as street trees, and although they withstand difficult city conditions, they can create problems that require high maintenance. Leaf and twig litter, disease and aggressive roots must be considered when choosing this tree for high-traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) areas.

American planetree leaves.
Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

This tree prefers deep, moist, rich soils, but will grow in places undesirable to plant growth, such as areas with low soil oxygen and high pH. It prefers full sun or light shade.

Prune drooping branches on trees located near vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Eliminate the occasional double leader to promote a single trunk. Pruning healthy wood should be done in winter. Remove dead and broken wood when detected (any time of year) to reduce incidence of disease.

Problems: The most serious disease is anthracnose. Other diseases include canker, bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew and leaf spot. Insects that cause problems are aphids, sycamore lace bug, scales and borers. For more information on problems with sycamore, refer to the fact sheet HGIC 2011, Sycamore Diseases & Insect Pests.

Aggressive roots can raise sidewalks if planted too close. Plant at least 6 feet from the sidewalk or curb. Roots and dense shade created by the canopy of this tree prevent healthy growth of lawn grasses beneath it.

Keep this tree away from well-tended lawns, pavement and buildings. Sycamores create litter with their leaves, fruit and twigs. This is not such a problem when sited along streambanks or out-of-the-way places, but maintenance becomes an issue if located in turf areas or near pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

American Planetree (

Platanus occidentalis)

The American planetree is also called sycamore, buttonwood and buttonball.

Mature Height/Spread: This tree can grow 75 to 100 feet with a similar or greater spread. Under ideal conditions it can attain heights of 175 feet and may have a trunk 10 to 14 feet in diameter.

Growth Rate: It grows at a moderate to rapid rate (2 feet per year) and is long-lived.

Ornamental Features: It is highly valued for its form and size, with its massive height and spread, huge trunk and large limbs. The growth rate rarely slows, and under ideal conditions this tree can become one of the most massive in Eastern North America. It usually develops one strong central trunk, but occasionally double leaders will develop.

The bark at the lower part of the trunk is red to gray-brown and scaly. The bark on the upper trunk peels in large flakes to expose smooth, lighter colored (white to creamy white) inner layers.

The leaves are cream-colored and wooly when they emerge in the spring. At maturity they are large, medium to dark green and are only wooly along the veins on the lower side. The fruit are seeds clustered into a round ball (1 inch) that hangs on a long, flexible stalk through most of the winter. They usually hang individually, but sometimes hang in pairs.

Landscape Use: The American planetree should be reserved for naturalized areas next to streams and rivers, or sites where litter and aggressive roots are not an issue. It needs ample space to develop.

This tree prefers deep, rich, moist, well-drained soils but will grow in almost anything. It grows in either high or low pH soils. Although it prefers moist soils, it tolerates moderate drought. It prefers sun or very light shade.

Problems: Anthracnose can be a serious problem in wet, cool springs. Bacterial leaf scorch, cankerstain, leafspot, canker and powdery mildew are other disease problems. Troublesome insects include aphids, sycamore plant bug, sycamore tussock moth, scales, borers and lacebugs.

Cultivars: There are no selections commercially available. When possible, select trees grown from parents native to your region.

London Planetree (

Plantanus x acerifolia)

This hybrid is the result of a cross between P. occidentalis and P. orientalis. It is sometimes listed as P. x hybrida.

Mature Height/Spread: This tree grows 70 to 100 feet tall, 65 to 80 feet wide. It can reach 120 feet in height under ideal conditions.

Growth Rate: It grows at a moderate to rapid rate (2 feet per year) and has a moderate to long life span.

Ornamental Features: This tree is similar to American planetree with a few exceptions: The spread is not as great, bark is duller (but still showy) and fruit hang in pairs.

Landscape Use: London planetree should be reserved for naturalized areas next to streams and rivers, or sites where litter and aggressive roots are not an issue. It needs ample space to develop.

This tree prefers deep, rich, moist, well-drained soils but will grow in almost anything. It grows in either high or low pH soils. Although it prefers moist soils, it tolerates moderate drought. It prefers sun or very light shade.

Problems: London planetree suffers from most of the same disease and insect problems as American planetree. Cankerstain can be very serious on this tree. Some cultivars are somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and anthracnose. (Disease resistance means that infections are few, do not progress very far or do not occur.) Other problems with aggressive roots, litter and turf growth beneath the canopy are similar to American planetree.


  • ‘Columbia’ and ‘Liberty’ are reportedly more resistant (not immune) to powdery mildew and eastern strains of anthracnose.
  • ‘Bloodgood’ is somewhat resistant to anthracnose but susceptible to mildew.

Note: Chemical control of diseases and insects on large trees is usually not feasible since adequate coverage of the foliage with a pesticide cannot be achieved.

Originally published 06/99

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.

Facts About The Sycamore Tree

Home › Ornamental Gardens › Trees › Sycamore


By: Jackie Carroll

Image by Dale Fornoff

Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) make handsome shade trees for large landscapes. The most striking feature of the tree is the bark that has a camouflage pattern comprised of gray-brown outer bark that peels off in patches to reveal the light gray or white wood beneath. Older trees often have solid, light gray trunks.

Sycamores also go by the names buttonwood or buttonball trees. This comes from the 1 inch (2.5 cm.) balls that hang from the tree all winter and fall to the ground in spring. Each ball hangs on its own stringy 3 to 6 inch (8-15 cm.) twig.

Facts about the Sycamore Tree

The largest deciduous tree in the eastern United States, sycamore trees can grow 75 to 100 feet (23-30 m.) tall with a similar spread, and even taller under ideal conditions. The trunk may be as much as 10 feet (3 m.) in diameter.

Sycamores have strong wood with several uses, but as the tree ages, a fungus attacks and consumes the heartwood. The fungus doesn’t kill the tree, but it makes it weak and hollow. Wildlife benefit from hollow sycamore trees, using them as storage chambers for nuts, nesting sites, and shelter.

The enormous size of  sycamore trees makes it impractical for the average home landscape, but they make great shade trees in parks, along stream banks, and in other open areas. They were once used as street trees, but they create a lot of litter and the invasive roots damage sidewalks. You may still see them along streets in older suburban neighborhoods, however. Read on to find out how to grow a sycamore tree.

Growing Sycamore Trees

Sycamore trees grow in almost any soil, but they prefer deep, rich soil that is moist but well-drained. While you can plant container-grown trees any time of year, trees with balled and burlapped roots should be planted in spring or fall.

Sycamore tree care is easy. Fertilize the tree every other year if it isn’t growing as fast as it should or if the leaves are pale. Water young trees deeply to keep the soil from drying out. After the first couple years, the tree withstands moderate drought. It’s best to give the soil a deep soaking when you’ve gone a month or so without a drenching rain.

Problems with Sycamore Trees

Many problems are associated with sycamore trees. They’re fairly messy, shedding a generous supply of leaves, seed balls, twigs, and strips of bark. Tiny hairs on the seed balls irritate skin, and can cause respiratory distress if inhaled by sensitive people. Wear a mask or respirator and gloves when removing the seeds from a seed ball. The leaves and leaf stems also have a coating of hair when they are new. The hairs shed in spring and can irritate eyes, respiratory tract, and skin.

A sycamore’s spreading roots often infiltrate water and sewer lines and damage sidewalks and paved areas.

The trees are susceptible to several insect infestations and fungal diseases. These conditions rarely kill the tree, but often leave it looking bedraggled by the end of the season.

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The fig tree of the genus ficus belongs to an extensive family with more than 800 species. There are two types of fig trees. Caprifiguiers or male figs with inedible fruit because they protect the blastophages responsible for sexual pollination. Fig trees, domestic or...0012

  • Why is there no fruit on my fig tree?
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  • Do you know?
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    Latin name: FICUS CARICA 3

    Family: Moraceae 9,000 Flower color: flowers growing inside fruits

    Plant type: Fruit tree

    Type of vegetation: year -round

    Type of foliage: Obtivated

    Height: from 2 to 6 m depending on the variety

    toxicity: irritant juice

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    hardiness: rustic, can withstand temperatures down to -15° C despite being in a sheltered position

    exposure: Full sun, protected from cold winds

    Soil type: Fairly rich, light, sandy, deep orchard, tray

    Planting, planting: add well-decomposed compost to the plantation in spring

    Multiplication method: spring sowing, light pruning in September 30 cm branches, layering

    size: Limit its size in the coldest regions. During training, prune it to branch and produce a few main branches, then remove the dead branches. But beware of bifo-containing varieties that are produced on the wood of the previous year.

    Diseases and pests: mosaic, fig fly, flour bugs

    The fig tree of the ficus genus belongs to an extensive family of more than 800 species. There are two types of fig trees.

    • Caprifiguiers or male figs with inedible fruit because they carry blastophages responsible for sexual pollination
    • Domestic figs or common figs or female figs that produce consumable figs once or twice a year depending on variety

    Fig varieties with one tree yield one fig crop per year during autumn.

    Beeper fig varieties produce two harvests per year.

    • Fig flowers that are harvested from July from buds formed on the wood of the previous year.
    • Autumn fig, which represents the largest production.

    Among the fig trees there are autofertile varieties that will be preferred in northern regions where the fig tree's only pollinating insect, the blastophage, cannot live.

    Figurine - wood resistant to -15°C, but can be destroyed behind the above-ground part. Therefore, in the coldest regions, it is recommended to install a fig tree in a place protected from the winds and as protected from the sun as possible.

    Deep, light and sandy soil will be ideal for a fig tree, but it grows well in normal soil. Beware of drought during the first years of installation.

    Why is there no fruit on my fig tree?

    Your type of fig tree is definitely not suitable for your area. On the other hand, a fig tree of both sexes, and therefore a fruit, is required to obtain pollination (see next question).

    Why is there no flower on my fig tree?

    The fig tree is a monoecious plant that behaves like a dioecious plant. Indeed, it has male and female flowers, but pollination of female flowers by male flowers of the same tree is not possible. On the other hand, there are no flowers on the tree, they are inside the young fig and require the intervention of the blastophage actor ( Blastophaga psenes ), which is a small insect of the wasp family.

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    Do you know?

    • A fig tree can have a female, male or hermaphrodite, which is rare in the botanical world. Of the female varieties, some produce two crops a year, while others only one.

    • All ficus produces a white liquid called latex.

    Species and varieties of ficus

    The genus includes more than 800 species
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    I really like figs. They say that it can be grown even in a room. Is it really true?

    The fig tree (or fig) is a subtropical crop. It grows as a bush or tree, reaches a height of 10 meters. Lives up to 100 years, and bears fruit three times a year. This plant can be grown indoors. It is propagated by seeds and cuttings. Instances obtained from seeds begin to bear fruit in the 8-10th year, and from cuttings - in the 2-3rd year.

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    Photo: Wikipedia / Emi Yañez

    garden and vegetable gardensubtropical plantsfigs

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