Why do people plant sycamore trees? Learn to Identify a Sycamore Tree.

Sycamore tree leaves are mistaken for maple leaves because they are almost identical. How can you know whether it’s one tree and not another? Continue reading if you never want to make a mistake while identifying a sycamore tree. On the way, let’s learn a little more about the sycamore tree.


Why Do People Plant Sycamore Trees?

There are so many reasons why people plant sycamore trees. The following are some reasons to plant sycamore trees.

  • They love the tree.
  • To lower air pollution.
  • A living place for animals.
  • To reduce UV-B exposure.
  • A space for retreat.

To lower air pollution.

By trapping unwanted smells or gases in the air on their leaves and bark, sycamore trees help absorb odors and pollutant gases and filter particulates out of the air. It contributes to lower energy demand for cooling our homes. Also, it lowers carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.

A living place for animals.

Birds and other animals love living in sycamore trees in cities. People have animals that the tree can serve.

To reduce UV-B exposure.

Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about half. Since kids love playing outdoors, it will help protect them.

A space for retreat.

Trees have provided a space for humans to retreat for a long time. From playhouses for children or a way for adults to relax, it helps.

Is the Sycamore Tree Invasive?

Yes, the sycamore tree is invasive because of its roots. Its root system can survive in a variety of environments. This root is difficult to remove, and it can spread far beyond the tree canopy.

Below are characteristics of trees with invasive roots. 1

  • Active seed dispersal mechanisms involve birds, animals, or the wind.
  • It yields a large amount of seed.
  • Bloom in the shade or under different conditions.
  • It grows fast and gets big in a short time.
  • The seeds can live for an extended time, such as a year.
  • It grows in a variety of soil types.
  • The trees mature at a young age, allowing them to produce seeds sooner.

Invasive Tree Tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind when planting trees with invasive roots.

  • Use a root barrier
  • Assess the environment
  • Watering

Use a root barrier.

Consider using a root barrier if the only spot available to plant is near your home or a place that it can damage if it is too close. It is critical to use the root barrier to a depth of at least a couple of feet when planting. Ensure the root barriers extend a few inches above the ground for any potential surface roots.

Assess the environment

Before planting, it is vital to consider your environmental factors because this will determine how your trees grow. If you can’t control the effects, you can plant another tree instead. Go ahead if you are up to the task.

Find out what you should know before planting a sycamore tree.


Check that your trees are getting enough water. If roots do not receive enough water from irrigation or rain, they will seek it from pipes or other sources. Watering your trees to depths of three feet or more at frequent intervals will allow the roots to stay deep in the soil.

Do Sycamore Trees Make You Sick?

Yes, sycamore trees can make you sick. The lower parts of the leaves of the sycamore tree develop fine dust. This dust is an irritant to the respiratory system and can cause allergies. Also, the seeds contain hypoglycin A, a toxin that causes severe muscle damage.

You may experience the following allergic symptoms from a sycamore tree:

  • Sneezing
  • It can cause a runny nose.
  • Your eyes can get irritated.
  • Vomiting

Where do Sycamore Trees Grow?

Sycamore trees are in different parts of the world.  Here are some sycamore species and where they grow, using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones.

  • Hybrid London plane Tree
  • California Western Sycamore
  • Oriental Plane Tree
  • American Sycamore

Hybrid London plane Tree

The Hybrid London Plane Tree (Platanus acerifolia) grows in USDA zones 4 to 8.

California Western Sycamore

The California Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) grows in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10.

Oriental Plane Tree

The Oriental Plane Tree (Platanus orientalis) is native to Southeastern Europe and Asia, and it thrives in USDA zones 7 through 9. 2

American Sycamore

The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) grows well in USDA zones 4 to 9.

How to Stop a Sycamore Tree from Growing?

It depends on how you want your tree to stop growing. You can prevent it from growing upwards or from regrowing after a cut.

Stopping a Sycamore Tree from Growing Upward

Below are ways to stop a tree from growing toward the sky.

  • Trim the tree’s top within 2 inches of where several other branches sprout from the main trunk. If the leader is only a few millimeters in diameter, use pruning shears to cut it off. For large diameters like 1-1/2 inches, use a handsaw to cut a 45-degree angle.
  • Choose a new path from the branches near the top. Bend the lead upright and secure it to the stub of the before cut top. You can use twine.
  • To keep the tree’s top consistent with the other parts, prune back all the other limbs in the same section.
  • Prune the side limbs at a 45-degree angle in front of a side shoot. It should not be more than one-third of their length. Every year, you should try doing this.

Stopping a Sycamore Tree from Growing  After Cut

Here are ways to stop a tree from growing after cutting it.

  • Girding
  • Frilling
  • Using Herbicides
  • Getting Rid of the Stump


Girdling is the process of making grooves in a tree trunk to expose the cambium and disrupt the flow of nutrients. To do this to a sycamore tree, use a hatchet or chainsaw to cut one or two grooves into the trunk around its diameter. The grooves on small trees are at least a half-inch deep, and on large trees, they are 1 to 1.5 inches deep. 3


Frilling also helps expose the cambium of the tree. When showing the cambium, make downward angled cuts into the trunk with a chainsaw or hatchet. Cut around the tree, leaving the bark attached to the trunk’s base.

Using Herbicides

After girdling or frilling, you should use a water-soluble herbicide. You will spray the cambium until the trunk is wet to the eyes. The herbicide will soak into the tree and kill it over the next few weeks.

Getting Rid of the Stump

New sprouts may emerge from the stump even after the mentioned processes above. To kill the tree, you must remove the stump. A stump grinder will assist in grinding the stump down to ground level and get it dug out along with the connecting roots. You can speed up decay to kill the stump and rot it before removing it.

What is Special About a Sycamore Tree?

The sycamore tree’s unique feature is the bark of the tree. It features a camouflage pattern made up of gray-brown outer bark that peels away in parts to disclose the pale gray or white wood underneath in portions. It also has a pleasant odor.

How Do You Identify a Sycamore Tree?

You can identify a sycamore tree through its:

  • Leaves
  • Bark
  • Balls of seed


Sycamore tree leaves have three or five lobes and an oval shape with wide shallow indentations. Look for serrated edges around the borders and prominent veins on each lobe. 4


The bark of the sycamore tree is smooth and free of fissures. You can identify sycamore trees by their patchy bark, which peels off as they grow.

Here are its colors:

  • Brown
  • Gray
  • Tan
  • White

Balls of seed

Sycamore trees produce little brown seed balls that cling to branches throughout winter before falling in the spring.

What are the characteristics of a sycamore tree?

Here are some characteristics of a sycamore tree.

  • It is a native tree.
  • Family
  • Height
  • Bark
  • Canopy
  • Trunk
  • Root
  • Leaves
  • Seed balls
  • Climate
  • Soil
  • Disease


It belongs to the Platanaceae family.


The height of a sycamore tree can be from 75 feet to 100 feet.


The bark’s pattern will differ depending on the tree and its age. It comes in a variety of colors.


Sycamore trees have a distinctive canopy form that is identical to a dome. The width might be anything between 75 and 100 feet.


The trunk of a sycamore tree is broad. The diameter of a mature trunk can range from 4 to 14 feet.


Like many other trees, the roots of the sycamore tree grow downward rather than upward. Read about the kind of root system a sycamore has to know more.


They are wide and pale to dark green in color. In the fall, the leaves turn brown. Sycamores are deciduous trees that lose their leaves every year. They don’t always drop them at the end of the season. Throughout the winter, many leaves will fall due to wind and storms. Depending on the growth circumstances, they may hold their leaves till early spring. 5

Seed balls

The seed balls also go by buttonballs. The seeds are spherical or ball-shaped and dangle from the summits of the branchlets. They are dry, hairy, and have a diameter of around one inch. They hung in clusters of two to seven. The fruits ripen in the autumn.


It has wide tolerance and the ability to live in places of high exposure.


It can grow in any soil, but it prefers moist and rich soil.


It can get afflicted with anthracnose. It affects when the leaves drop or when they grow, and others.

Is a Sycamore Tree a Fig Tree?

A sycamore tree is not a fig tree. A sycamore tree belongs to the Platanaceae family, while a fig tree belongs to the Moraceae family.

Are Sycamore Trees a Problem?

The following are some problems with sycamore trees.

  • The tiny hairs on the seed balls irritate the skin and, if breathed by sensitive persons, can cause respiratory discomfort.
  • Several insect infestations and fungal diseases can harm the trees.
  • The spreading roots of a sycamore enter water and sewer pipes, causing damage to sidewalks and concrete surfaces.
  • Their leaves, seed balls, barks, and other materials make places messy.
  • In the spring, the hairs shed, irritating the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin.

Learn more on almond trees, if you are looking for an alternative.

Citations Used in this Article

  1. Smart Strategies for Fruit Trees with Invasive Roots (gardenofluma.com)
  2. Where do Sycamore Trees Grow? (gardeningdream.com)
  3. Methods for Killing Sycamore Trees (sfgate.com)
  4. Sycamore Trees: Leaves, Bark, Types – Identification Guide  (leafyplace.com)
  5. Sycamore Tree – Features, Uses, Types, and How to Grow (rurallivingtoday.com)