The trees referred to as Sycamore in the US and Europe are generally those in the genus Platanus. These trees are tall, graceful hardwoods charactarized by large, maple-like leaves covered in pubescence (fuzz). The trees often let off a faint sweet smell when it's wet or hot. Sycamores look similar to maples but can be distinguished by the fuzzy leaves which turn brown instead of yellow or red in the fall and which are connected to the stem in an alternate pattern instead of opposite each other. Sycamores also have soft fuzzy balls of seed, as opposed to the winged samuras of maples or the spiky 'mace' balls of sweet gum. Sycamores are found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. The most commonly planted as a landscape tree is Platanus X acerifolia, which is a cross between the european and asian varieties. Another sycamore, found in California, is Platanus racemosa, the California sycamore. This tree is charactarized by graceful, sinuous branches and large leaves, and grows in riparian areas. The sycamore referred to in the Bible is actually the Sycamore Fig, Ficus sycomorus.

Sycamores make good landscape trees but you should keep a few things in mind. If you want vivid fall color, you should plant a maple or sweet gum instead. The leaves of a sycamore generally turn brown and drop off.. they do not turn vivid colors although in their own way they are quite scenic scattered over the ground. Also a few people are allergic to the little hairs on the leaves; if you are prone to allergies you might want to get tested for this before you plant one nearby. And they are large trees, so dont plant them in tiny, confined spaces. Sycamore, along with Eucalyptus, is one of the most widely planted trees in Orange County, CA

Syc"a*more (?), n. [L. sycomorus, Gr. the fig mulberry; a fig + the black mulberry; or perhaps of Semitic origin: cf. F. sycomore. Cf. Mulberry.] Bot. (a)

A large tree (Ficus Sycomorus) allied to the common fig. It is found in Egypt and Syria, and is the sycamore, or sycamine, of Scripture.


The American plane tree, or buttonwood.


A large European species of maple (Acer Pseudo-Platanus).

[Written sometimes sycomore.]


© Webster 1913.

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