Canopy Tour: Big leaves of fall

Published 1:12 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023

MT ZION — American Sycamore tree is native to Mississippi and produces some giant leaves which can be found readily right now.  If you have ever gone to Sunday school it is likely you have heard the song about how Zaccheus was a wee-little man and to see Jesus he climbed up a Sycamore tree.

It is impressive that he was able to climb a sycamore tree if you consider the fact that sycamore trees are known for irregular bark peeling leaving a slippery smooth skin. Mississippi State Extension Service reports the American Sycamore tree are exfoliators and the old bark peels away for new bark. 

American Sycamore may not be the tallest hardwood trees in the US but it is one of the largest in the state. MSU reports the tree can reach heights of 100 to 170 feet and a diameter of three to 12 feet. Sycamore tree crowns can be up to 100 feet wide. 

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American Sycamores are a member of the plane-tree family. This family of trees sheds bark in irregular sheets. The fruits are about one inch in diameter which develop in the fall and split into small seeds in the early Spring to allow the wind to spread the seed. 

Sycamore wood is usually interlocking and closely grained making it hard to split. MSU writes the timber is used in furniture and furniture parts, cabinetry, butcher’s block, food preparation utensils, and pulpwood

It is often found in moist bottomland sites, stream sides or upland areas near streams. The tree is intolerant of shade and often produces several shoots off of one stump when harvested. MSU writes the tree is a good erosion control with its interlocking root system along stream side management zones and levees.