What sycamore looks like

Size and shape

  • Large tree reaching 35 metres tall.


  • Large, maple-like leaves.
  • Have prominent, encircling "stipules" or leaf-like attachments at the base of the leaf stalk.


  • Distinctive, patchwork bark that flakes off to reveal white, green and cream-coloured inner bark.


  • Ball-shaped clusters that mature into fruit (seeds).


  • Solitary, firm ball-like groups of many hairy seeds.

Where sycamore is found

Sycamore is found naturally in scattered locations across Southwestern Ontario to the Toronto area, with outlying pockets as far north as the Collingwood-Thornbury area.

What you need to know to grow sycamore

  • Moisture: grows best in moist soils and tolerates seasonal flooding.
  • Soil: grows best in rich soils and tolerates heavy clay.
  • Shade: can grow in part shade or full sun.
  • Cautions:
    • root system: Like many willow species, sycamore has a shallow, fibrous root system that can get into septic beds and sewage pipes as it searches for water
    • size: Give sycamore trees plenty of space to grow as they can be one of the largest (height and width) broadleaf trees in eastern North America, especially on rich floodplains

Benefits and uses of sycamore

Wildlife benefits

Sycamore is not a major food source for wildlife, although some birds eat the seeds. Sycamore trees also provide habitat and shade.

Commercial uses

The wood from sycamore trees is used for:

  • furniture, trim and veneer
  • particle board

Fun facts about sycamore

  • Ontario’s largest recorded sycamore tree, near Alvinston, was 263 centimetres in diameter at breast height.