As I join with tree followers everywhere in admiring trees, not much has changed with my American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, since January’s report. I suppose that bare-n-naked (or nekkid, as we’re wont to say here in Texas) is expected during dormant winter months.
Stunning against the pure Texas sky,
…the elegant, winter-white bark is especially gorgeous.
According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the American Sycamore has the largest trunk diameter of any Eastern North American native hardwood tree. I suspect that the West Coast trees in the Sequoioideae family out-girth the Sycamore by a smidge. Or maybe more than a smidge.
Sycamore wood is used commercially for butcher blocks, boxes and crates, as well as some furniture, but reportedly course and hard to work with.
The outer-bark is rough along the bottom of the trunk, with revealed patches of pale/grey/beige bark underneath,
The pallid bark becomes smoother and more prominent toward the canopy.
Peeling bark showcasing subtle colors is a signature visual quality of Sycamore trees, but I’ve read that it’s not entirely clear why the bark peels.
Some sources suggest that because Sycamores grow quickly and the epidermis of the tree is rigid, that it sloughs the bark to accommodate rapid growth. Also, Sycamores are happiest when they grow in wet bottom-lands, so it might be that the tree employs more transpiration throughout and therefore, the bark sheds more than many trees. Another theory is that there are more issues with fungi and other wet-feet problems precisely because Sycamores grow naturally in wet and heavy soil types and the bark exfoliates as a protective measure against disease problems. A last explanation of Sycamores’ penchant for peeling is that because Sycamores photosynthesize through their limbs, the shedding bark allows for a longer season of photosynthesis and therefore,there is rapid and continual growth.
My Sycamore isn’t planted in a floodplain, nor does it grow in particularly soggy soil. And yet,
…peeling is a thing Shed does. I guess adaptation and genetics win again.
Seed balls dangle in the winter chill, decorating the foliage-empty tree.
I’m a little surprised that more of them haven’t drifted or dropped to the ground yet, in preparation of spreading Shed’s genetic material, but I’ve seen a couple of mushed balls on the ground and in the compost bin.
By next month, there should be many exploding seed balls (as a neighbor once described them), raining down on the Earth in and around my gardens, preparing to create new trees.
Perhaps there will be seedlings to show you.
Thanking Pat of The Squirrelbasket for graciously hosting this fun meme about trees. Check out her blog for interesting information about trees from all over the world.