Photo copyright © 2021 Mariposa Native Plants
This native California sycamore tree is an excellent choice for a tall, quick-growing shade tree. It grow to a large tree, over 100 feet high with a 50 foot crown. The leaves are large and keep their green color throughout the summer. The California Sycamore is deciduous, dropping its leaves with the advent of cold weather, but then letting in winter light to the surrounding landscape. The flowers are creamy white, yellow, or brownish. The bark is attractive--mottled with brown and tan areas--and peels away as the tree gets mature. P.racemosa prefers to be located near a water source; in nature it is found in drainages, washes, and near streams.
In California, P.racemosa grows in the norther Central Valley, along the coast from the Bay Area south to Baja California, and in the southern Central Valley and Sierra foothills from Fresno south to Bakersfield. It ranges in elevation from sea level to 5,000 ft. (1,500m). Sun: full sun. Temperature: cold tolerant to 10°F (-12°C). Soil: this plant does well in almost all soil types, including sandy and clayey soils. Soil acidity: pH from 5 to 8.
Fairly easy to care for once established. A specimen that is planted early in the year from a 1-gallon container should be given supplemental water (1 gallon, 4 liters) every week for the first summer. Once the fall and winter rains arrive, stop supplemental watering. In the second summer, P.racemosa should probably be provided with supplemental water once per month. It does require a moderate amount of moisture, but once it is established near a water source, supplemental watering can generally stop. The sycamore accepts pruning very well. It has a fairly fast growth rate, averaging about 2 feet/year.
Foothills (to 2500 feet) and lower mountains (2500-3500 feet).
Deer resistant. The California Sycamore is a host to the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio rutulus).
The California Sycamore is subject to a leaf blight caused by the anthracnose fungus. This fungus causes leaves to shrink and become disfigured, and it leaves them with a white dusting. However, the disease is rarely more than a mild annoyance, and it rarely results in significant leaf loss.
The California Sycamore makes a good shade tree, and it also serves to anchor stream banks.
The genus name Platanus comes from the Ancient Greek name πλάτανος, which referred to a Mediterranean sycamore in the same family as P.racemosa. The species word 'racemosa' comes from the Latin word racemosus, which means 'full of clusters', referring to the many round seed pods that appear on the tree in the autumn.
#1 container, about 1 gallon, and deep tree pots. Also: #2 and #3 containers.