do i really WANT a sycamore tree?

Bridget HelmAugust 27, 2010

Hello I'm in South Louisiana. When we built our house three years ago, I planted two wateroaks. One of the wateroak saplings was just recently killed by a grasscutter that used roundup at the base :( He also killed my baby redoak. I replanted a nuttall oak in its place.

I'm thinking about replacing the wateroak with a sycamore sapling. I've they can be messy. I have an 8 year old son that can rake - LOL! I have also been told that you should have a large yard for a sycamore. Our property is 1/6 an acre - pretty nice size. I think it's big enough, don't you?

Those of you who have sycamores, do you like them?

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Mine grow about 6 feet a year. They need sun and prefer a moist site. That's probably not a problem where you are. They tolerate all kinds of conditions though. And yeah they make a mess. Considering sycamores grow at twice the rate of other trees, twice the litter is not really unreasonable and it isn't anything that a simple leafblower can't solve 2 or 3 times a month in the growing season if you need a tidy yard. In many places they routinely get antractnose. In my area, they don't. They grow to about 50x100. You might be able to shave a little off that if planted close together. Not a good choice for allergy sufferes. I've seen them survive hurricanes well and even releaf by the end of their growing season. They can live for a really long time unlike many trees of similar growth rate.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 4:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Well, my experience with these trees is that in the warmer parts of the South, they suffer from some bad foliage diseases that don't kill them but disfigure them early in the season.

I'm sure that you'll obtain some good suggestions. But please let your future grass cutters know that RoundUp can do damage to young trees if it comes into contact with the trunk. The bark should be shielded completely when this herbicide is used any where near the tree.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 4:23PM
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Dan Staley

I used to have a house with a huge London plane and it drove my allergies crazy when I had to (frequently) rake the lvs. Hopefully you have both fired the lawn service and got them to pay for a new tree.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:29PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

round up at the base of the plant did not kill the prior plant ...

i grew up in a neighborhood lined with sycamores.. in z5 .....

but for the bark.. they are messy... ugly.. constantly dropping limbs and twigs.. a homeowners nightmare ....

and god help you when all the fuzz balls start falling...

IMHO...its a park or golf course tree ... not 1/6 of an acre tree ...


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 6:39PM
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I have 2 sycamore and 1 london plane, I love mine but I have no allergies and they haven't seeded yet the oldest is only 6 yrs old, neighbor has an older one, sadly he has a dog on a chain around the trunk and the chain is girdling the tree but he doesn't care, it's loosely chained but rubs as the dog moves. I haven't noticed a lot of fuzz in the past years from the tree.But anyway I love sycamores just my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:27PM
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I have two young London Planes. My lot is 80x120. I have the trees sited at the very front where they will shade the front yard and the asphalt of the street, hopefully keeping my house cooler in summer. When I planted them last year from 15 gallon pots I predicted I would get decent shade in three years. One of them has outstripped my expectations. That one is the cultivar Columbia. It grew big enough in little over a year to shade my picnic table until noon. The other is Bloodgood. It is not as fast but the leaves color a beautiful gold. That one gives me Fall twice. It will go gold, drop its leaves then grow a new set to do it again. I've seen other Planes in the area do the same thing. In Winter they sit nekkid letting my yard get full sun when it is most welcome.

I am very fond of Sycamores in general. I love the bark and the big leaves. There is also a sort of resiny spicy smell they have too. The mess? That's part of the fun. I get free mulch.

There is a pair of London Planes growing in the parking lot of an industrial building not far from me. They are HUUGE! One of them I call "The Lonely Mountain" after a place in The Hobbit. You can see the tree from a mile and a half away and the canopy is shaped like a steep sided mountain.

My mother in law lives within sight of one of the oldest and biggest California Sycamores in Southern California. The limbs are enormous and kids love to climb it. I love the zig zagging branches.

This time of year in California the London Planes begin to get a bronzy goldish cast. They are the first sign that autumn is approaching. The color is beautiful when the trees are back lit by the sun.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:18AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the fuzz problem was related to all the balls falling in the roadway and being pulverized into a fine dusty mist ....


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 8:58AM
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Clearly a large mature planetree can overwhelm a small lot with litter. Large strips of bark that can't easily be run over with the lawn mower and lots of seeds. But you take the bad with the good. Not much else will reach that size in as little time and be as tolerant of conditions. The leaves can be mulch mowed or blown away or collected. They are not a constant year round mess. It will be a long long time before anything planted this year will start making that kind of mess.

Oak acorns and sweetgum seeds can be a nuisance too. And those can't easily be mowed or blown away.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:14AM
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The mexican sycamore(Platanus mexicana) is my favorite. The undersides of the leaves look like white velvet. The top side of the leaves stay dark green late into the season. In central Texas they seem to have less problems than the native.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 10:20AM
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Bridget Helm

thank you all for your input. I have seen many of them around town, some young and some really old and some in small lots and some on large. i've even seen a few streetside, so i don't think it will look silly to have such a large tree in our yard.

the back yard seems bigger because our neighbor's back yard backs up to our back yard with no fence in between, so the lot "seems" bigger.

i think a sycamore is a better choice than a live oak. sooooo many people down here plant live oaks in little yards.

anyhow, i think they are beautiful. i like the bright green they are, rather than the usual dark live oak green that is so common here in Louisiana. I also LOVE how the bark looks after it peels. it's such a smooth almost white color.

i guess i'll deal with the litter of leaves when i have to. it won't be so bad. the kids will love playing in piles of leaves.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:38PM
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Kids do love to play with the leaves because they're so big.

If you want the showiest bark and resistance to antractnose, the disease that makes the leaves drop prematurely throughout the growing season, London Planetree (Sycamore hybrid) would be a better alternative but I don't know how they do in your area.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:56AM
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