American Sycamore Facts. How Long Do American Sycamores Live?

Are you interested in the beauty of wood but know nothing about American sycamore? It is so awesome that people from all over the world have been traveling to see it. People have even planted some in their gardens and yards because they love it.

In this post, you will learn facts about the American sycamore.


Is American Sycamore the Same as Sycamore?

Sycamore is not the same as an American sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis). The American sycamore and London plane tree belong to the Platanaceae family.

American sycamores are native to eastern North America and are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. They grow between 70 and 100 feet tall and 50 to 70 feet wide when maturing. Their leaves have three or five lobes and turn golden yellow or brown in fall.

Sycamores are native to Eurasia and are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. They grow about 75 feet tall and wide at maturity, with large, 5-lobed leaves that turn yellow in fall. Sycamores produce greenish flowers in spring and brown fruit balls that hang on the tree throughout winter. The bark of young sycamores has a smooth, mottled appearance that changes to a darker color and a more furrowed appearance as the tree ages.

How Fast Do American Sycamore Trees Grow?

The American sycamore can reach 100 feet and has width of 40 feet. This deciduous tree is native to North America and grows best in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

Fast Growth Rate

The American sycamore is a pioneer specie because of its ability to grow fast in disturbed soils. It is one of the hugest trees in North America, and it serves as shade, windbreaks, and wildlife habitats. The light gray bark appears to flake off in large pieces when the tree reaches maturity, which helps to distinguish it from other trees with similar characteristics.

There are many reasons why some trees grow faster than others. Some of these include the tree’s genetics and its ability to access water and nutrients. With better access to these resources, the tree will grow faster than a slower-growing tree that is limited in these ways.

Another factor could be that some trees grow more rapidly than others because of the season or type of climate in which it is planted. The most reliable way to tell if a tree will grow quickly is by reading its species and predicting how it will behave in its location given the climate and soil conditions.

Height Growth

These trees grow fast, but their growth rate slows down as they age. On average, American sycamore trees grow up to 2 feet per year. Yet, some have grown as much as 5 feet per year during their first 25 years.

Many factors contribute to the height growth in American sycamore trees, including environmental factors such as soil conditions and precipitation levels, but it is not uncommon for researchers to find that genetic diversity is the most influential factor of all.

The reason for this is that when a tree has a variety of genes from which to choose to grow taller or thicker, the odds are better that the tree will be able to adapt to any unforeseen changes in its environment than if it only had one or two types of genes from which to choose. In addition to this finding, it was found that American sycamores with a greater genetic diversity grew taller at an even faster rate than those with less genetic diversity.

How Long Do American Sycamore Trees Live?

Many American sycamores live over 300 years old, but most don’t make it past 200. The average lifespan of an American sycamore is around 150 years. The age and health of the tree will dictate how long it lives, as will its location and care. While some trees have lived for more than 300 years, most trees only last about 150 years.

Several factors influence how long an American sycamore tree lives, including:

  • Age
  • Health


Trees can only live for long naturally, so the older a tree is when planted, the shorter its lifespan. Some trees have lived for more than 300 years if their planting was in a good location and they got proper care. Yet, most trees die before they reach that age because of disease or weather conditions.


A well-cared-for tree has a better chance of surviving the seasons and living longer than a neglected one. The best way to keep your tree healthy is by giving it plenty of water and sunlight when it is young. It helps it grow robust branches and roots, which allow it to withstand harsher conditions.

American Sycamore Uses

Some uses of the American sycamore include:

  • Wood
  • Ornamental
  • Food Source


The wood is soft and coarse-textured and helps manufacture furniture, veneer, plywood, and low-grade construction. It also serves as boxes, crates, and pulpwood for paper.


The American sycamore grows fast and can grow to 100 feet high. It can live more than 200 years. The tree has large leaves, and its bark peels off in large pieces as it matures. It makes it ideal as an ornamental tree in parks and yards.

Food Source

The fruit is edible for animals. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, raccoons, foxes, and deer eat the fruit during the winter months when other food sources are scarce.

American Sycamore Characteristics

It is native to the eastern and central United States, from New York west to southeastern South Dakota, south to northern Florida, and west to Texas and Oklahoma. It has isolated populations in western Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado.

The American sycamore is a tall North American tree of the Platanaceae family. It grows to heights of over 100 feet. The bark of mature trees flakes off in great patches, leaving the surface mottled gray, brown, and green.

The leaves are broad, with three to five lobes per leaf. The upper sides of the leaves are dark green, and the undersides are a paler green. Its leaves have serrated edges and distinctive veins that extend outward from the center rib of each leaf. Leaf size can vary between 3 and 6 inches long.

Sycamore trees bloom with small flowers in late May or early June. Flowers form on dangling clusters at the tips of branches. Female flowers turn into spherical seed heads that resemble hanging balls covered with small spines when mature. Seed heads split open to release seeds dispersed by the wind when ripe in October or November.

Is American Sycamore a Good Tree?

Here are some reasons why the American sycamore is a good tree.

  • They are tolerant of wind and air pollution, making them sights along city streets.
  • They are good shade trees.
  • It is a good size tree for carving large spoons and bowls. One can carve it out fast with hand tools making it suitable for green woodworking projects where you don’t want to spend too much time or effort on carving your piece.

Are American Sycamore Trees Messy?

Here are two reasons why the American sycamore can be messy:

  • It sheds leaves in late fall. It even drops some leaves in early spring before new ones appear. Fortunately, these are not too difficult to rake up.
  • It sheds bark from late spring through summer. These little bits of bark can come off in sheets with flakes and tiny pieces. This process is natural and relatively harmless — but it makes the tree look messy. You will have to keep your lawnmower or weed trimmer handy if you don’t want this debris covering your lawn or garden beds. 1

Are American Sycamore Trees Invasive?

American Sycamore trees can be considered an invasive species in the United States. But the question of whether or not they are is debatable.

Some people consider these trees invasive because they grow fast and out-compete other plants for sunlight, soil nutrients, and space. In some parts of the country, such as Kentucky and Tennessee, these trees form dense forests and crowd out native species.

In support of this argument, note that the American Sycamore is one of the most common trees in the United States. Many people have planted them as ornamental trees in their yards. These trees are very hardy and can survive in almost any environment.

Yet, this does not mean that American Sycamore trees are invasive. They are in many areas to prevent erosion and provide shade. They also provide a habitat for many different kinds of animals.

Learn about the Kind of root system sycamores have.

Is American Sycamore a Fast-Growing Tree?

Yes, it is a fast-growing tree.

Its growth rate is in two categories:

  • Juvenile growth
  • Mature growth

Juvenile Growth

It occurs in the first 20 years. During the juvenile period, American sycamore trees grow at an average rate of more than 2 feet each year. They reach heights of 80 to 100 feet. As for the diameter, sycamore trees have diameters of around 3 inches at juvenile growth.

Trees will grow at a faster rate when they are younger than when they are older. The juvenile growth stage is the period of rapid expansion in the tree trunk and branches. In the juvenile phase, trees will grow up to 3 times faster than in the adult phase and produce a lot of leaves and branches.

The juvenile growth stage is limited to a specific number of years before the tree matures into an adult and enters the adult growth stage where it produces flowers or fruits instead of leaves and branches. Juvenile growth in trees is caused by the tree sending more nutrients to the leaves and branches than it does to the roots.

The roots are not able to draw up enough water from the ground to supply the leaves and branches with enough nutrients and therefore start to steal them from the leaves and branches. The leaves and branches will then start to die because of this lack of nutrients which leads to leaf drop and in some cases a general weakening of the tree which can lead to death in extreme cases.

Mature Growth

After 20 years, their growth slows down to about 1 foot per year. As for the diameter, after 20 years, they increase to 6 inches or more each year.

Mature growth in trees is a sign of a healthy and well-cared-for tree. Mature trees can be identified by their branching pattern, leaf coloration and density, bark condition, and overall size. The appearance of these signs can vary depending on the species of tree. Proper watering and fertilizing practices can help ensure that your trees maintain an attractive appearance year-round.

A tree is generally considered mature when it has reached its full height and width and has developed an abundant crown of branches. The age at which a tree becomes mature can vary depending on the species, the type of soil in which it grows, and other factors like climate or human intervention. The change in foliage color in autumn that many trees undergo is usually due to the loss of chlorophyll as the tree ceases to photosynthesize in preparation for winter dormancy.

Learn when the American sycamore grows if you want to plant one.

Citations Used in this Article

  1. Sycamore Tree: Plant Care & Growing Guide (