Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Uses for the Sycamore Tree

Sycamore trees, known botanically as Platanus occidentalis, and more commonly as American planetree, buttonball tree or buttonwood are widely grown trees in the Eastern region of the country. Sycamore trees grow large, easily reaching 100-feet in height at maturity. Sycamore has large leaves reminiscent of maple, round fruits and scaly and peeling trunk bark. Sycamore trees serve as shelter, food sources and breeding space for a range of creatures from owls to finches and wood ducks to bats.

Shade & Landscape Trees

With its substantial height, large leaves and sprawling open canopy, sycamore trees are widely appreciated for use as shade trees. Their height provides excellent shade for lawn expanses and to shade homes and other structures. They establish themselves quickly in residential yards and are equally attractive when planted individually or in small groups.


Sycamore wood has a wide and twisting grain structure and is commonly used to manufacture decorative goods. It is used for furniture in small lumber pieces as the wood is not very strong. The wood is milled into thin narrow layers and the bark into strips to make woven baskets and other decorative objects.

Erosion Control

Sycamore roots are complex and weave around themselves tightly gripping the soil. When used on loose soil sites they help to ward off erosion and settle the soil in place. They can tolerate moist soil conditions and can tolerate planting near river banks and stream beds.

Sycamore Tree Removal

Check with your city's ordinances before reaching for the chainsaw. Check with your municipality before pruning or removing a sycamore. Look for a licensed and insured company that specializes in tree removal; these companies have both the equipment and the crew to take the sycamore down piece by piece. Read the written contract carefully and look for terms regarding property damage, particularly if your sycamore is near a fence or home. Also determine who disposes of the felled trunk and limbs. Cut straight through small trunks. Don't attempt to remove larger sycamores yourself if you don't have prior experience; you may be left with a large column of wood precariously balanced on a stump. Wrap the chain around the stump and use a tractor to pull the stump from the ground. A grinder shaves the stump to just below ground level.

Garden Guides