The annual rings of sycamore are distinct and delineated by a narrow
band of light-colored tissue at their outer margins. The ray flake
exposed by quarter sawing are relatively wide and conspicuous,
resembling those in quartersawn oak, but smaller. Sycamore ray flake,
unlike oak ray flake, are darker than the rest of the wood and often
orange to dark red in color. Although the sapwood is not always
distinguishable from heartwood, sapwood generally is white to light
yellow, whereas the heartwood is light brown to dark brown or reddish
brown with no distinct heart-wood sap-wood delineation. To echo the words
of one of our customer "The bottom line - quartersawn Sycamore lumber
is drop dead gorgeous".
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L) is known by many common
names, such as The Ghost Tree, Buttonwood, Buttonball, American Plane
Tree and American Lacewood. It is considered one of the largest hardwood
trees in North America, especially in diameter. Under ideal growing
conditions the tree will grow extremely fast, reaching heights of 100
feet or more (occasionally 150 feet) and trunk diameters of 10 feet or
more. The average height for a mature Sycamore ranges from 80 to 110
feet with an average diameter from 3 to 8 feet.
American sycamore is easily recognized because of its multicolored, mottled bark. The bark on young branches are brownish. As the branch grows, this outer bark peels away in irregular patches to expose smooth inner bark, which may be green or olive in color but most often is white. The resulting patchy pattern of bark in the branches and upper crown is conspicuous and is characteristic of American Sycamore. In mature trees, bark on the lower trunk is entirely brown and consists of small scales.
The fruit is shaped like a round ball, about 1 inch in diameter, that breaks up when ripe to disperse small, elongated seeds surrounded by many fine hairs which permit them to be carried afar on the wind. The wood is moderately hard and strong, it's used to build furniture and interior finished products.