Western Sycamore: Its Root System, Fruits, and Woods.

The Western sycamore (Platanus Racemosa) is a large deciduous tree native to western and central North America from British Columbia, California, and east as far as Manitoba. It is one of the most widely planted trees in urban areas worldwide. Keep reading to learn more about this tree.

Know more about Platanus Kerri.


Western Sycamore Growth Rate

The growth rate of the western sycamore tree is moderate to fast. The growth rate depends on several factors, including climate, soil type, irrigation practices, and pruning frequency. Western sycamores prefer total sun exposure but can tolerate partial shade if necessary. They grow best in moist soils, and they tolerate dry soils too. Ensure they get provided adequate water during dry periods. Pruning these trees encourages new growth from the trunk. 1

Life Span of Western Sycamore

The Western Sycamore has a lifespan of up to 150 years. It also lives up to 400 years.

Here are some tips for maintaining your Western Sycamore:

  • Pruning
  • Shaping
  • Pests control


Western sycamores grow up to 150 feet tall, so they need plenty of pruning. You can cut the tree back to about 6 feet high every few years. It will keep it from becoming too large for its space and prevent broken branches from falling on people or property.


Trim any dead branches or twigs hanging down too far from the trunk to keep your tree looking healthy.

Pests control

Western sycamores usually don’t have many pests, but they may attract aphids and small insects in warm weather. Look out for these bugs and remove them by spraying them with soapy water or an insecticidal soap solution (see your local nursery).

Heights of Western Sycamore

Western sycamore is a large, fast-growing deciduous tree that reaches  80 to 100 feet and spreads from 50 to 60 feet. Although some trees have a bent or crooked trunk, the trunk is usually straight.

Western sycamores grow best in deep loam soils but will tolerate most soil types except sand. They prefer moist soils but can grow in dry conditions better than many other trees. These trees adapt well to urban environments growing fast despite pollution and poor drainage conditions.

The flowering of Western Sycamore

Western sycamores produce separate male and female flowers on the same tree, making them monoecious (male and female flowers are on the same plant). Male flowers are yellowish-green in color masses of stamens surround each flower. They grow at the top of stems called “panicles” that hang from branches like tiny umbrellas. Female flowers are greenish-yellow in color and have an ovary containing pistils.

Uses of western sycamore

Below are some uses of the Western Sycamore:

  • Western sycamore trees are grown commercially for timber and firewood production. The wood helps make furniture, flooring, cabinets, doors, and windows. Also, it helps make paper pulp.
  • The seeds can get grounded into flour as a thickener or filler in baked goods such as bread, cakes, and cookies.
  • The bark can help make tea. The roots can get boiled to make a medicinal tonic used by Native Americans as an antiseptic wash.
  • The wood’s high density makes it perfect for wine barrels.
  • Western Sycamore is also a popular choice for cabinets and furniture due to its resistance to decay. The wood is resistant to most common household pests such as termites.
  • They help create decorative wooden pieces like clocks, picture frames, and lamps. When stained or painted, the wood takes on a rich reddish-brown hue.

Root System of Western Sycamore

The root system of western sycamore is extensive and deep, which allows the tree to grow fast when it finds an area with good soil and water. The roots also help the tree survive during droughts because they can tap into water sources deeper underground than other trees.

The roots spread out laterally from the trunk in all directions. So they take up more space than most other trees do. It can cause damage to sidewalks, driveways, or buildings if the roots grow too close to them.

Tree roots get restricted by their need for air and do not like being buried under soil or mulch where they cannot breathe. But this isn’t an issue for western sycamore. Its root system is so extensive that it doesn’t have any problems with oxygen (except perhaps at ground level).

Pests and Threats of Western Sycamore

Like many other trees, the Western sycamore has its share of pests and threats.


Diseases like anthracnose and leaf spots can affect Western sycamores. These diseases cause lesions on leaves or branches and can weaken the tree significantly if left untreated. Contact your local extension office for treatment guidance if you see any indicators on your tree.


The most common pests attacking Western sycamores are aphids, scale insects, mites, and spider mites. Aphids feed on sap from leaves and cause curling and distortion of young leaves as well as stunting growth due to a lack of nutrients from the plant when they eat it constantly instead of going off for food as other insects do during

Barks of Western Sycamore

The bark is easy to work with and has a lovely pattern and texture. It has a pretty good amount of variation in color, from light brown to almost white. The light-colored pieces are especially useful for making paper.

Barks help with underpainting layers on paintings or drawings. It is because they have some translucence. So it makes them look like skin or flesh when painted over with oils or acrylics.

They can also serve as a ground layer on canvas or paper but will need to get gessoed first (if they are not already). It helps as an overlay on top of an existing painting or drawing, giving it extra depth and texture.

Fruits of Western Sycamore

The fruits are small brown capsules, which open to release seeds in late summer or early fall. These capsules split open into four sections revealing flat seeds attached to buoyant cottony hairs. It allows them to float on water until they find soil with adequate moisture and nutrients for germination.

Woods of Western Sycamore

Western Sycamore is a tough, durable, and stable hardwood with distinct color variations. Sapwood varies in color from white to light pinkish brown, while the heartwood is reddish-brown to dark chocolate brown. It can serve as an exterior siding material because of its ability to resist weathering and decay when exposed to moisture.

In addition to being beautiful and durable, Western Sycamore has other advantages over species like Maple (Acer saccharum). The wood is resistant to fungi and insects, so there are no issues with rot or termites.

Citations Used in this Article

  1. Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa (calscape.org)