What it looks like

The sycamore tree is distinctive in all seasons with its patchwork bark that flakes off to reveal white, green and cream-coloured inner bark. It has large, maple-like leaves with prominent, encircling "stipules" or leaf-like attachments at the base of the leaf stalk. The fruits are solitary, firm ball-like groups of many hairy seeds.

Where it is found

Sycamore is found naturally in scattered locations across southwestern Ontario to the Toronto area, and with outlying pockets as far north as the Collingwood-Thornbury area and on Prince Edward Island.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 35 m tall
  • Moisture: Prefers moist soils, tolerates seasonal flooding
  • Shade: Can grow in part shade or full sun
  • Soil: Prefers rich soils, tolerates heavy clay

Like many willow species, sycamore has a shallow, fibrous root system that can get into septic beds and sewage pipes if it is searching for water.

Sycamore trees grow to be one of the largest (height and width) broadleaf trees in eastern North America and thrive on rich floodplains. Give them plenty of space to grow.

Did you know?

Ontario’s largest recorded sycamore tree, near Alvinston, was measured at 263 cm at breast height.

Image credits

  • Tree: Vern Wilkins
  • Leaf: Sean Fox
  • Bark: Steven J. Baskauf
  • Fruit: Steven J. Baskauf