London Plane Tree, the city Sycamore
Whoa crazy bark! And are those decorative hanging seed-balls? Being such a strange and unique tree, it’s easy to recognize our old friend, the city Sycamore.
Old is no understatement either. The strange life strategies of Sycamores are the same as those of their one-hundred-million-year-old ancestors, back when they were making shade for dinosaurs.
The city street trees many of us call Sycamores are actually a hybrid of the American Sycamore and the Plane tree of the Eastern Mediterranean. The resulting tree not only has all the beauty and massive size of its parents, it is also super tolerant of pollution and compacted soil. Quite a perfect city tree.
There are a couple of proper American Sycamores growing on the east side of the City Hall building, recognizable by their reddish-brown trunk bark. In most ways though, London Plane Trees are so similar to sycamore trees, and the hybrid is so much more common in the city, we end up just calling them ‘city Sycamores’.
These are the largest city trees, since their momma, (the Sycamore), is the largest (though not the tallest) deciduous tree in North America. Maybe the biggest city tree in Hamilton is a city Sycamore on Mountain Ave, just south of Aberdeen. (We dare you to find a bigger one!)
You can collect seed from October into early Spring. There’s no seed treatment necessary, and the fluffy balls are fun to pull apart and plant as you wander around… hint, hint.