Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Uses for the Sycamore Tree

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.