Spring has sprung, rain has fallen, temperatures have climbed and here in Austin, Texas, we’re mostly through our beautiful and glorious spring weather and headed into the lovely–though admittedly somewhat less pleasant–summer season. Summers in Texas are hot and humid and that’s one reason why Texans have historically liked trees; trees provide respite from the sun and cool our souls. The American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis is a tree that the Native Americans and later, European and American pioneers, scouted for when they wanted to find water and shade in Texas.
Stately and tall, the American Sycamore is springtime resplendent in its lush, green foliage, all leafed out and ready to provide protection for critters–large and small, furred and feathered, two-legged and four-legged.
This month, the leaves have been munched upon and are a bit holey.
I’m not sure exactly who’s been eating the leafy greens, though I know I’ve seen this sort of damage in previous years on the Sycamore’s leaves.
I did see this fella, a Glassy Winged Sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis, on one of the leaves.
Now, I’m not suggesting that this particular one is responsible for all the holes, but apparently, the Sharpshooter undergoes several molts in its trip toward adulthood and it had to eat something, so I think the leaves are a good bet. Since I caught the Sharpshooter near the holes, he gets the blame for making the holes.
The Glassy Winged Sharpshooter is a type of leafhopper insect, of which there are a bunch who munch on shrub and tree foliage here in Central Texas. I’m not one to fret about a few holes in leaves–everyone has to eat and one function of foliage is to feed insects. The Glassy Winged is common here in Central Texas and according to literature, they do little long-term or serious damage to trees and shrubs.
This one–the one I referred to earlier as a “fella” and “he”–is actually a female. The white patches on her wings are call egg brochosomes.
Most leafhopper species have brochosomes, which produce a sticky substance used to coat their bodies for waterproofing. Additionally, the female stores and then uses the substance she holds in the brochosomes to cover her eggs once she lays them.
Also, if you stand under the Sycamore (and my oak trees, too) right now, you might feel a few “drops” from the trees, sort of like rain drops, but with a clear, blue sky above. No, the drops aren’t rogue precipitation, but, more than likely, are leafhopper excrement.
Well, that’s nice. Just don’t host your next picnic underneath a tree with “drops” coming out of it.
The Sycamore in May is in full leaf, foliage, and life.
It will be a harbinger of safety, food, and protection for many and for months to come.
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.
The Sycamore is such a stately tree. How fun that you found a sharpshooter on the leaves. The color of the foliage is such a beautiful shade of chartreuse!
A very stately tree, indeed! I love the shade of green that new Sycamore leaves sport–so cheery and springy. It was a lucky shot, to have that sharpshooter–right there and not hopping away.
The other day as we were exploring a new-to-us nature park, I noticed several trees I couldn’t identify. It made me realize I have never “studied” trees and really only know about the ones I’ve had in my own yard in the different places we’ve lived. Since I’ve never had a sycamore, I’m learning all kinds of interesting things from you. Thanks for expanding my tree knowledge!
Like you, Tracy, I feel like I don’t know trees as well as I should. I know “my” trees, but I’m making an effort, especially with the native Texas trees, to really learn about them. Trees are so important–and beautiful!!
Trees with lovely wide canopies such as the Sycamore sports are definitely a boon in our hot (and heating) climate. What fun you found a relatively still sharpshooter as potential culprit for the leaf holes. And as you note, a few holes are a small price to pay when it comes to hosting wildlife on our beloved native plants.
That is a bit chastening, learning about the source of those “drops” falling from trees. I always wrote such experiences off to transpiration. I’m not an unabashed fan of the other potential starting points for that precip!
I think trees might be a widely shared weak spot for the general population when it comes to identification. Y’all are right – it is time we gave them the respect they are due!
The Sharpshooter was well-placed. So much of the Sycamore action is waaaaaay up high, so I’m tickled when I can see and photograph something at eye-level, whether it’s holes in the leaves or critters on the leaves. Yes, I don’t always think folks give trees their due. What I will say, even when I’m complaining that people don’t plant nearly enough native perennials is that the movement (at least here in Texas) is to plant native trees–and that’s a good thing for so many reasons.
I am a novice authentic gardening and even more in trees. Thank you very much for all the information about the sycamore. I not if we have it in Spain, investigate. It is a magnificent and beautiful tree, I love it. Greetings from Margarita.
Hi Margarita! I also don’t know whether the Sycamore would grow in Spain, but I’m sure you have many lovely choices of appropriate/native trees to plant in your gardens.
Excellent posting! It’s great to be able to spot the inhabitants.
I quite like the filigree holes in the leaves – a bit like paper doilies.
All the best 🙂
Thanks, Pat! I like that–paper doilies–green paper doilies! Thanks for hosting this fun, fun exercise for learning about trees.
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I agree–a great tree!
(Finally getting caught up on tree-following news) Sycamore leaves strike me as “spectacular” — I suspect because none of our trees have leaves so large. The photo of the fresh green un-holey one is so attractive! We’re still in limbo here, not much for fresh green foliage yet.
I would agree with you, Hollis–the Sycamore is a pretty great tree!! I’m amazed that you’re still so cold!! Maybe we could make an exchange, a little of our warm for a bit of your chilly!
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Leaf hopper excrement! Oh my. Just yesterday water drops fell from a crepe myrtle to practically sizzle on my skin. I thought: oh … must be leaf transpiration … how nice … how cooling. hahahaha. So much for that fantasy!