Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sycamore leaves in autumn

Platanus occidentalis, American planetree


Sycamore leaves in the fall

I like sycamore trees in the fall when their leaves begin to change color. They look like someone has tied colored handkerchiefs to all the branches -- or so it seems to me. Each leaf is so large that it makes its own splash of color.

I found this sycamore growing in my garden one wet spring about a dozen years ago. It was just a seedling. Sycamore seeds like to fall onto mud flats and take root, and "mud flat" describes my garden that spring. We dug the little tree up and planted it on the far end of our little acreage.

(The rainy season that year was interesting. A killdeer made its nest in my muddy washed-out garden, and she had a hissy-fit every time I came anywhere near it. I felt bad about making her fake a broken wing all the time so I just let her have that end of the garden for a while. But now, back to the sycamore tree...)

I estimate the current height of the sycamore tree at 35-40 feet. I'm not real good at estimating height, but it's a good 15-20 feet above the power lines.

Ah, yes, the power lines. They are going to be a problem. We underestimated the spread that the tree would develop and the power company will want to trim back its branches on that side. We'll have to let them do it. One good thing about it -- sycamores aren't a densely branched tree.

Sycamores may grow up to 70 feet in 20 years. They are long-lived trees, often living over 300 years. They often reach 100 feet in height and they may be even wider than they are tall!

2 comments -- please add yours:

...Kat said...

I will come often to learn all about the trees
great blog :-)

sycamore near me

carrah said...

We r hearing the sound of rain droplets from our sycamore trees at night. Wondering what this sound might b. Definitely not rain. You mentioned seedlings falling. I have seen a bunch of black looking seeds if that's what u might call them. Haven't noticed the trees doing this in the 2 years we've lived here. Trying to make sense of it and what it means. Good or bad sign? For the trees, a normal thing?

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Photos and text copyright © 2006-2010 by Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Do not republish without written permission. My e-mail address is gnetz51@gmail.com