How Do You Know if a Sycamore Tree is Dying? Can it be in Shock?

You might get scared that your sycamore tree is dead, so a few questions are going through your head like; How do I know if it is dying? Will it fall on my car or apartment if it is dying? Let’s answer some of your questions in this post.


How Do You Know if a Sycamore Tree is Dying?

It’s not always easy to tell if your sycamore tree is dying—its signs may be subtle, and you might spot them only after the fact. The best way to know for sure is to consult with an arborist. But, if you are seeking some hints before calling in the professionals, keep the following in mind:

  • The trunk
  • The bark
  • Brown leaves

The trunk

Look for holes and cavities along the trunk of your tree. Insects cause tunneling into the wood. While small holes might be harmless, they can act as entry points for the disease that can cause more problems down the line. If you see cavities in your tree’s trunk, try to seal them with a white glue and water mix.

The bark

If your tree’s bark looks cracked, it’s a sign of trouble. Cracks give diseases a direct path into the tree’s insides, where they can wreak havoc on its health. To prevent this from happening, clean and disinfect any injuries or cracks in your tree’s bark. Remove any loose bark from around the area because it could be rotten or diseased. It could contaminate any product you use on the crack.

Brown leaves

Though brown leaves are a sign of old age, they can also be a symptom of a condition. If your tree has brown leaves during the growing season (other than fall), it may have a disease. Other possible causes include drought, insects, or other problems in the area where it stands.

Why is My Sycamore Tree Losing Its Bark?

There are several reasons why your sycamore may be losing its bark. Below are two of them:

  • Age
  • Mechanical damage to the trunk


Sycamores lose their bark as they age, but you can remove it if it isn’t falling off on its own. Use your fingernails or a pair of pliers to pull off the patches that have come loose during the winter months before new growth begins in the spring.

Mechanical damage to the trunk

It occurs from vehicles driving up against it or a lawnmower hitting it over time. If this happens to your tree, make sure there aren’t any wounds left behind where water could enter and cause rot.

What Does it Mean When My Tree is Losing its Bark?

When a tree suffers from severe stress and other health problems, it may start losing its bark. It’s one of the last signs of deterioration, so if you notice patches of missing or losing bark on your tree, it could mean it is dying.

Excessive sun exposure is a typical cause of bark loss, which can occur when another tree gets damaged. It exposes the newly exposed area to more sunlight than it needs.

Trees that are too close to walkways and patios are also more susceptible to sun damage, as hot concrete and asphalt reflect light up at the trunk and dry it out. Bark loss might be because of pests like insects, fungi, bacteria, or viruses—and sometimes even by weather damage like storms or lightning strikes.

Often, such drastic measures as pruning or removing a tree might be necessary for the tree to recuperate. If you have any questions about bark loss on your trees, contact an arborist for advice on it.

What Time of Year Do Sycamore Trees Shed Bark?

Sycamore trees are recognizable by their white bark, which flakes away to reveal green patches underneath. The timing of the bark shedding varies according to seasonal changes and climate, so you need to be aware of your own sycamore’s life cycle.

Winter and Fall are the most common time for sycamore bark to peel off during the winter months when the weather changes from cold to warm and back again. It is not unusual for pieces of bark to flutter down during a windy day after a snowfall has melted.

Bark shedding can also occur in autumn, though it is less frequent in winter.

During spring and Summer, sycamore trees might shed their bark in spring or summer when their sap is flowing. During these seasons, the trees grow fast, and new cells get produced fast. Sycamores have an active metabolism during this time of year, which leads to rapid peeling of the bark. It is common for small pieces of bark from the branches of young sycamores to fall off throughout the year as they continue to grow.

Why is My Sycamore Tree Dropping Leaves?

Your sycamore tree is dropping leaves in the middle of the summer or prematurely. It could be because of many problems with the tree. Some of these are fixable, and some cannot. But you will need to figure out what is going on with your tree before fixing it. If you don’t know what’s causing the problem, and if you can’t fix it. Well, you may want to consider taking some radical measures.

Here are two possible causes for your sycamore tree dropping leaves during the wrong time of year.

  • The temperature
  • Disease

The temperature

If your tree is losing its leaves in late summer or early fall and there aren’t any other symptoms, then the most likely culprit is a change in weather. Sycamores can shed their leaves during any season. So it might be a natural occurrence in response to seasonal changes.


A disease like an anthracnose or leaf spot could also cause a sycamore tree to drop leaves before its time. The two are fungal infections caused by environmental factors such as too much rain or lack of water.

Tree disease is any type of damage to a tree that inhibits the tree’s ability to grow or thrive. There are many different types of diseases and causes of diseases, but the effects are often similar. A diseased tree may not produce fruit or leaves and may have yellowing leaves or misshapen branches. The tree may also be weaker and more susceptible to damage from other factors such as insects or storm damage.

Why are My Sycamore Tree Leaves Turning Yellow?

If you have noticed yellowing leaves on your sycamore tree, do not panic. In most cases, this is a natural process that occurs at the end of the growing season. If your sycamore tree leaves turn yellow during other times of the year, it could mean something is wrong. It can turn yellow from natural leaf fall or other reasons.

Natural Leaf Fall

In most cases, yellowing leaves on a sycamore tree mean leaf fall. Sycamores are deciduous trees, meaning they lose their leaves every fall before going dormant for the winter. Many regions around your tree may have turned yellow or brown and have begun to drop off the branches in fall. If so, do not bother because it will bounce back in the spring and grow new leaves for the next season.

Other Reasons for Yellow Leaves

  • Water in Excess
  • Not Enough Water
  • Cold Temperatures

Water in excess

Your tree’s leaves may be yellow if it has received too much water. This can happen during the rainy season or if someone is overwatering. When this happens, the roots take up needed nutrients from the soil and bring them to the tree. If you suspect overwatering, look for standing water or the soil’s wetness.

Not Enough Water

Another common reason sycamore trees will have yellow leaves is if they are not getting enough water. Also, it can cause leaves to turn yellow because there is no moisture available for the tree to use through its roots. You may notice brown, dry leaf edges and drooping branches as yellowing leaves when your tree is not getting enough water.

Cold Temperatures

The sycamore tree is hardy and can handle cold temperatures of about -20 degrees Fahrenheit (zone 5). But, if your tree got exposed to temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, frost damage may cause your leaves to turn yellow. If they were moist when exposed, the damage is more.

Why is My Sycamore Tree Dying?

If your sycamore tree is dying, it may be due to:

  • A pest infestation
  • Diseases

A pest infestation

Inspect your tree for signs of pests such as aphids, scale insects, and mealybugs. Aphids are tiny insects that suck nutrients from leaves and leave behind honeydew; this substance can lead to sooty mold growth on the leaves. Scale insects and mealybugs look like tiny cotton balls; they both suck nutrients from trees but do not produce honeydew.


Sycamores are vulnerable to anthracnose, which causes brown spots on the leaves and lesions on the twigs. They can also get leaf spot diseases, which can cause brown spots on the leaves that often resemble holes. If your tree has dead branches or plenty of dead leaves, it could have one of these diseases.1

How Do You Know if a Sycamore Tree is Dying?

Trees can start showing disease signs long before they die, so it is vital to give attention to your tree. Call a professional if you notice any of these issues below.

  • The leaves are changing color.
  • More leaves are falling off.
  • There are cracks or holes in the trunk.
  • Its bark is falling off.
  • There’s a musty smell near the tree.

Note that some of the signs are normal for sycamores and might not be a threat.

Is My Sycamore Tree Dead?

While you may have to wait until the spring to know if your tree is dead or alive, there are some things that you can look for now.

  • One of the first things to notice about the tree is its looks and how it feels. Are there any new leaves on the branches? If not, that could be a sign of a problem. Sometimes, if trees miss out on a few years of water, they will sacrifice their leaves to save their roots and branches. So, make sure to water your trees during drought conditions.
  • If you still see green leaves on your tree, even without proper distribution of the branches, you may want to consider pruning off the dead branches.
  • If there are no new leaves on your tree, your sycamore tree may have died. Sometimes, though, trees go into shock after they have gone without water for too long, and they will start to produce new leaves in the spring. So, if your tree still looks pretty healthy (i.e., no dead branches), it is possible that it has gone into shock and might come back once it gets some rain again.

Sycamore trees have different kinds. So, learn about the Mexican sycamore, and the American sycamore.

Citations Used in this Article

  1. How to Identify and Treat Sycamore Problems | Stewart’s Lawn (