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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

AMERICAN SYCAMORE -- STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE

Sometimes a tree can tell you more 
than can be read in a book
~ ~ C. G. Jung

American Sycamore's  fruit
average about one inch in diameter

Lined up on my deck railing, above, are the small fruit of the American Sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) -- an ancient tree species that has remained unchanged since before the ice age or about 50 million years ago. 

This tree intrigues me for its antiquity as well as its beauty on the landscape.

Sycamores are on my walking trail that runs along a creek bed. They dangle individually from small stringy stalks all through the winter. I collect them from the ground when they drop off randomly throughout the season.


Sycamore fruit hanging on stringy stalks
photo credit: ETSU Arboretum

Inside my home, I place the fruit in glass jars keeping them as symbolic reminders of the tree's strength and endurance. The trees are massive, can live for hundreds of years, and are one of the oldest species of trees on this earth. They are survivors. We all can be survivors through our strength and endurance.

Scaly bark on sycamore trunks.

When you see a sycamore today you are seeing the same unchanged species that existed  millions of years ago.

Close up of sycamore bark

Bark of a sycamore displays its ancient heritage by being   inelastic -- tearing as the trunk matures allows its white inner white bark to show through. This results are outer scales toned green, cream, brown, and gray against the white bark. It is an amazing look in nature. 

Native to the eastern part of the country they usually are found along creeks, streams and rivers. They usually  dominate the other trees found along these waterways. 




Reference: The Great American Forest, Rutherford Platt




22 comments:

  1. We have plenty of these on our farm. My husband hates the "sycamore balls" as he calls them, when he mows.

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    1. Michelle -- your husband is close on the folk name for the fruit which is button balls. Like to collect the various seed pods or fruit that plants, especially trees, produce. -- thanks -- barbara

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  2. I grew up with sycamore trees and loved their seeds (or are they fruit?). When traveling I was discovered they are called plane trees in England and they also exit in Asia where I have no idea what they are called. I love their bark and their size. I just googled them and found a picture of a truly gigantic, very ancient one. Thanks for reminding many of us about this wonderful tree we probably don't think about very often. I love your idea of keeping the "balls" in a bowl in the house.

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    1. June -- The seeds are in the fruit -- are feathery which enables them to be carried by the wind. England's sycamores are a different species commonly called London Plane tree. I believe the sycamores in Asia are found in China. Around here we have many sycamores as we have so many waterways. When the sun shines on American sycamores they make you stop and think about their absolute beauty. -- thanks -- barbara

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  3. Such beautiful trees. They grow in our area near the river but not on our property. I love their white branches against the sky.

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    1. Vicki -- In the eastern part of the country one can usually tell their is a waterway on the landscape as there will be a meandering march of sycamores in the distance. Agree with you that their white branches are lovely. thanks -- barbara

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  4. They are beautiful trees. Thanks for embarking on a bark lesson. I did not know that. I will now have my eyes peeled for local specimens.

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    1. Raining Iguanas -- I think you will find them quite easily around waterways. Liked your pun using embarking! Happy sycamore hunting -- thanks -- barbara

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  5. Why? Because they tell wonderful stories themselves.

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    1. Birdman -- They certainly do -- thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  6. There are a lot of sycamores in the Northwest, too. Transplants, of course. I never took the time to get to know these trees in detail, so find this fascinating.

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    1. Hattie, Sycamores have been transplanted west of the Mississippi. They are enduring trees so I imagine they do well in the west? thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  7. A lot of people don't like sycamore trees, but I love them. We have a large one on our land - unlike a lot of those trees, it was the perfect shape! But, it got a direct hit from lightning last year. We are waiting to see if it will put out green, but I think it is dead. It has lost all of it's bark and it is black. I hate to lose it, but I am afraid we have.

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    1. Janet -- So nice to have you stopping by. And so glad to hear you say that you love sycamores. Unfortunate that lightning hit your one and only -- would be interesting to note any healing that the tree might be trying to see if it can survive. They are really tough trees. -- thanks -- barbara

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  8. I appreciate all the in formation you add with your lovely photo's.

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    1. Dee -- thank you for the nice comment. Nature is a learning world -- barbara

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  9. I love how you cherish them, & bring the fuit indoors to remind you of the tree's endurance & strength. The fruit on your deck railing is gorgeous. Perhaps those trees & those fruits are looking back at you with appreciation, as you slowly observe & ponder their beauty & significance.

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    1. Sketch Wandering -- I do believe that everything is interconnected. It is a good feeling when we cherish each other, nature, the world and the cosmos. Thank you for your comment on the fruit sitting on my railing. My father was influential to me in so many humble ways and one way was his love of nature. Nice to have you stop by -- barbara

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  10. Mmmm. I've never seen one here on the tundra but south into Iowa maybe. They certainly are a beautiful looking tree...:)

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    1. troutbirder -- I am not all that familiar with your natural environment -- perhaps American sycamores are not that prevalent in your area. Your state college or state dept. of natural resources should have a list of your state's trees online. -- barbara

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  11. Such an interesting tree! We have no such ones in Russia, but once being in Turkey I saw the balls on the ground. Now I know much about the wonderful plan from the post.
    Thank you, Barbara.

    Tatyana

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    1. tattina -- nice to have a visitor from Russia. I viewed your blog and found it quite interesting. I will stop by it again. May warm sunbeams dance around you in the new year -- barbara

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