California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

One of the few deciduous trees that show their true beauty during winter is the California Sycamore tree (Platanus racemosa.) This tree has a white bark that glows in the sun, patched with cream and grey. It often spreads from multiple trunks, forming intricate shapes and branching out in a spectacular way.

The leaves of the Sycamore are alternate and lobed. The California Sycamore is deciduous, which means it will shed its leaves once the days get colder.

Because of their special appearance and tall stature, these trees were used as landmarks in history, even as lighthouses, by hanging lanterns from their top branches.

A Big Tree That Grows Fast

It will grow to 20 feet in 10 years if the conditions are right. Certain trees near creeks, where they love to be, can reach up to 100 feet in height, but the average trees are only 50-60 feet tall.

The California Sycamore tree can adapt to many types of soil, from sandy and clay soils to generic gardening soil. It loves the sun and can withstand drought after establishing itself, but it’s best to keep it moist. Make sure you provide enough full sun and moderate amounts of water.

The California sycamore is a tall tree with deep roots that dig straight down. 30 feet between the trees will ensure that this majestic tree will have plenty of space to spread its rounded canopy when it matures, in 10-20 years.

The Seeds and Bark Are Edible

Although the California Sycamore tree does not provide edible fruit, it’s an important species for wildlife, as it provides shelter and shade. Some other parts of it are actually edible, including the seeds, leaves, and bark. It’s a great tree to plant in your garden for bird and butterfly watching.


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