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Plants of the UNF Campus

Platanus occidentalis - American sycamore
Family Platanaceae


About seven or eight species of Platanus are native to Asia, Europe, and North America. They are large trees. Some are used for timber. Sycamore is native to the eastern and central United States into Mexico. Although its flowers are small, sycamore is a flowering tree and is the largest of the flowering trees in the United States. (A few conifers are larger.) A trunk diameters of fifteen feet is reported from Ohio. The bark is an outstanding feature. The rough outer bark is tan and it flakes away to expose smooth white bark below. The large leaves are broader than long with shallow lobes. Small flowers, and later the fruit, are held in spherical clusters at branch tips.


Reportedly, native Americans used this tree for a variety of medicinal purposes. The timber is considered tough and difficult to split but it has commercial uses. The small seeds are eaten by wildlife.


Specimens can be seen at several sites around campus. The tree in the photograph is south of Wackadoo’s.


Huge tree with the potential to grow to over one hundred fifty feet tall.

Care Instructions:

Light: sun

Water: moist soil, tolerates short periods of flooding, somewhat drought tolerant

Soil: adaptable to soil types, no other special requirements

This native tree is easy to grow in northeast Florida. It grows best in moist soils or where its roots can reach ground water. This fast-growing tree is most suitable for large properties. Homeowners may find the large leaves, fruits, and the flaking bark to be messy.

Platanus occidentalis