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Platanus occidentalis - L.
Common Name Buttonwood, American sycamore, American Planetree, Sycamore, American Sycamore
Family Platanaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards In hot dry climates the hairs of the fruits and leaves are believed to cause an effect similar to hay fever[11, 200].
Habitats Rich soils on the borders of streams and lakes[43, 82]. Often abundant on alluvial soils near streams and lakes and in moist ravines, sometimes on uplands, sometimes on limestone soils[270].
Range Eastern N. America - New England to Florida, west to Texas and Nebraska.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: Red. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Pyramidal, Rounded.

Platanus occidentalis Buttonwood, American sycamore,  American Planetree, Sycamore,  American Sycamore

Platanus occidentalis Buttonwood, American sycamore,  American Planetree, Sycamore,  American Sycamore
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Platanus occidentalis is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Oct to March. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

P. hispanica. Hort (pro parte). P. macrophylla. Hort. (pro parte). P. vulgaris angulosa.

Woodland Garden Canopy; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Sap.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sweet sap is tapped in the spring and used in the preparation of syrup and sugar[105, 177, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Astringent;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Laxative;  Poultice;  Salve.

The inner bark is astringent, diuretic, emetic and laxative[222]. It has been used as a tea in the treatment of dysentery, coughs, colds, lung ailments, haemorrhages, measles, milky and difficult urination etc and also as a blood tonic[222, 257]. Externally, it has been used as a wash on wounds[257]. An infusion of the bark and roots has been used as a foot soak for treating rheumatism[257]. The bark ooze has been used as a wash on infected sores and an infusion has been given in the treatment of infant rash[257]. An infusion of the bark, mixed with honey locust bark (Gleditsia triacanthos), has been used as a gargle to treat hoarseness and sore throat[257].
Other Uses
Shelterbelt;  Wood.

A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting[200]. Wood - coarse-grained, tough, strong, very durable, difficult to split[46, 61, 171]. Rather weak according to other reports[227, 229]. It weighs 35lb per cubic foot[235], and is used for furniture, chopping boards etc[46, 61, 171, 229]. Trunks of wild trees can be up to 4.5 metres in diameter and these were at one time hollowed out to make barges capable of carrying several tons of goods[226].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Aggressive surface roots possible, Pollard, Seashore, Specimen, Street tree. Prefers a deep moist loam[1], though it tolerates very wet, poorly drained soils[229]. Requires full sun[200]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution and compacted soils[200]. Established plants are drought tolerant[200]. Fairly wind-resistant[200]. A fast-growing and long-lived tree[200, 229], but it is of no value in Britain, being very susceptible to attack by parasitic fungi[11]. Fairly slow-growing according to another report, which also says that the tree is long-lived in the wild[227]. This species does not do well north of Central France, it requires long hot summers to fully ripen its wood[200]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Seed - two months cold stratification improves germination[113]. Sow spring in a cold frame in light shade[78, 98]. Home grown seed is often of poor quality and low viability. It is best to harvest the seed in late winter or spring and then sow it immediately in a cold frame[80]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood of the current years growth, 20 - 30 cm with a heel, autumn in a cold frame[1]. Easy[200]. Layering of stools in spring or autumn. Takes 12 months[78].

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Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Acer pseudoplatanusSycamore, Great Maple, Scottish Maple, Planetree Maple21
Platanus orientalisOriental Plane, Oriental planetree02
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Murat Kara Wed Apr 21 07:41:42 2004
Common name:West Plane
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Subject : Platanus occidentalis  

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