California SycamorePlatanus racemosa
The California sycamore is large, tall tree with a fast growth rate. In youth it has a pyramidal and upright habit. With age it develops a spreading, irregular, oval or rounded crown of heavy, large-diameter branches. It typically has a single trunk which can be massive in older trees, but it may have multiple trunks. The large, thick green leaves have 3-5 deep lobes with little or slight yellow color change in the fall. The fruits are hairy, brown seed balls about 1" diameter that hang in groups of 2-7. At the base of the trunk, the bark is thick, rough and furrowed, dark gray or brown. Above, it is thin, smooth, ashy white, and flakes or peels off to show mottled colors of white, tan, and brown. The California sycamore tolerates many soil textures including acidic, alkaline, compacted, and wet. It has only moderate tolerance to salt and drought when well established. It grows best in moist soils that do not dry out. Dry soil can lead to a short life for this native riparian tree. The sycamore's potentially enormous size makes it best suited for large-scale landscapes. It has an aggressive root system. At least 12 feet (preferably more) should be allowed between the sidewalk and curb when planting as a street tree. Size, fruit, dense branching, roots, and moisture requirement all need be considered when planting this tree.