The stately sycamore
With slanted and twisted trunks and mottled bark, the California Sycamore is a majestic curiosity. For me, this stately native marks nature’s cycle with beauty and grace and also reminds me of my childhood.
We see sycamores along the Kern and King’s Rivers when we camp and when driving the back roads of the foothills of California that we love. The November light looks so beautiful through their leaves.
The thin, irregular bark flakes off of Sycamore trees, leaving a variegated patchwork of light and dark gray, tan, black and even pale green that resemble that assorted pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.
Sycamores leaf out late in Spring,…in mid May. and turn golden in Fall. The trunks are distinctively white and mottled with grey patches that peel off like puzzle pieces. The leaves are very large and palm shaped with a furry bottom surface. Sometimes the leaves look two toned, with green on the upper side and gold on the bottom side.
A sycamore branch frames the river
Here’s a stunning Fall view of some sycamores on the Fort Hunter-Liggett property south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
My Sycamore in the garden
A sycamore was the first tree I planted in my new home here in the Sierra foothills in 2006.
I planted it as near as I could next to the small seasonal creek that flows along one edge of the garden. I knew it would need the cooler air and any extra water it could get. I set up a drip line, actually an old hose to travel way down the hill and trickle onto the roots.
Pick a planting site big enough to accommodate a full-grown sycamore tree. Look for a spot with at least 20 square feet away from your house, power lines and other trees.
In 2008, it looks about the same size!
Finally in 2010, my sycamore finally takes off and begins to grow.
Here in 2016, my sycamore is wide as it is tall,’throwing shade’ and about 16 feet tall.
Growing a majestic native sycamore in your Sierra foothill garden is easy and will give you years of beauty and usefulness, shade and privacy.