Sycamore Tree Facts. Do Sycamores Steal Water?

Sycamore trees are among the oldest trees on Earth, with some specimens in Europe estimated to be more than 2000 years old. It is the largest of all broad-leaved trees in America, with a trunk up to 10 feet in diameter (over 3 meters) and 120 feet (37 m). A sycamore tree is fascinating, and you should learn more facts about it.


Sycamore Trees are Ancient

The sycamore (Platanus) tree is an ancient tree planted for thousands of years. The genus Platanus is one of the largest trees, with about 100 species worldwide. Most of these are native to Europe and Asia, but some are in North America and Australia.

Sycamore Family

Sycamores belong to the Platanus family of trees (also known as plane trees). The word “sycamore” comes from the Latin word “sycomorus,” which comes from two Greek words meaning “of Syrian mares.”

The ancient Greeks used sycamore leaves in their rituals concerning Apollo and Artemis. They were said to have ridden on horses named Sycambros and Sykambra. While it is unknown why these gods got linked to sycamores, one hypothesis claims it was because of the tree’s abnormally fast growth rate.

Different Sycamore Species

Sycamore (Platanus) is a genus with different species of large deciduous trees in the Platanaceae family. 1

Below are some sycamore species:

  • American sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis)
  • European sycamore (Platanus Orientalis)
  • Chinese sycamore (Platanus Sinensis)
  • Mexican Sycamore (Platanus Mexicana)
  • California Sycamore (Platanus Racemosa)
  • Western Sycamore
  • Platanus Kerrii

The best-known species is Platanus occidentalis, the American sycamore or buttonwood.

Another popular species is Platanus x acerifolia, the London plane, planted in urban areas as a street tree. It is one of the most common street trees in London itself.

Sycamores have Elaborate Adaptations to Different Conditions

Sycamore trees are native to the dry, desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They can tolerate cold temperatures as low as -10 degrees F ( -23 Celsius). Sycamores have elaborate adaptions to their hot, dry environments.

Their leaves contain holes allowing them to photosynthesis more efficiently under conditions of high wind speeds or low humidity levels.

Sycamores Steal Water from Plants

Sycamores can steal water from other plants through a process called hydraulic lift. In addition to its ability to access water in low-lying areas, sycamores also have a shallow root system that allows them to survive in drought conditions.

The roots of this tree can draw water from the soil and transport it upwards into the leaves and branches. The sycamore’s unique ability to steal water from the ground allows it to grow in areas with poor soil.

When Do Sycamores Start Sprouting on Their Own?

In general, sycamore trees start sprouting on their own in the spring. There aren’t many viable seeds left on the tree once used to grow new trees. However, if you want your tree seeds to sprout, you can plant them in early spring or late fall.

If you have a small sycamore sapling in your yard, it will take several years before it begins growing leaves or flowers. During this time, the sapling will focus on developing a strengthy root system and growing tall enough. It allows the branches to reach sunlight at their highest point (branching occurs when a tree grows taller). You may not see any signs of growth until your tree is 3 or 4 feet tall or more, depending on how large your seedling was when you planted it.

At What Elevation Can Sycamores Grow?

Sycamores can grow at any elevation and in any climate. On the other hand, they favor climates with cool summers and warm winters.

Sycamores prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They are tolerant of both dry and wet soils. They are widely adaptable to most soil types, including those that tend to be acidic or alkaline.

The sycamore is one of the most versatile trees in North America. Its many uses include food, medicine, construction materials, fuelwood, and landscaping.

How Big Do Sycamores Grow?

Sycamores are a type of broadleaf tree that grows in many parts of the world. They produce a large canopy of green leaves and have a wide trunk that can reach up to 20 feet in height. Some species of sycamore are even capable of growing to over 100 feet tall.

While it is not possible to know how big a sycamore will grow, certain factors can influence the size of your tree. These include:

  • Soil quality
  • Temperature and humidity levels

Soil quality

The soil quality where you plant your tree affects its growth rate. If you’re planting in poor quality soil, it may take longer for your tree to reach its full potential size than in fertile soil.

Temperature and humidity levels

The rate at which your tree grows will be affected by high temperatures or low humidity levels in your area. Sycamores prefer moderate temperatures between 50°F and 85°F (10°C – 29°C) with high humidity levels (at least 60%).

What Region Do Sycamores Grow in?

Sycamores grow throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. You can find them growing along rivers and streams, at the edges of woodlands, and in open fields.

Sycamore trees grow in many parts of the United States, including the central and eastern regions. The sycamore tree is not native to North America but got introduced to the continent in the early 1700s. In China, they grow along river banks and on hillsides.

One can find sycamore trees near bodies of water, but they can also be growing in marshes, floodplains, and along creeks.

Uses of Sycamores

  • The bark of the sycamores can peel off in irregular sheets as it’s slightly spongy due to its high water content. It makes it easy to work with when making baskets.
  • The inner bark helps make a yellow dye.
  • It has helped over the centuries as an ingredient in medicines.
  • In Ancient Greece, the sycamores helps the Hippocrates to treat ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Sycamores have also been a source of shade in gardens.

Citations Used in this Article

  1. The Varieties of Sycamore (