En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - August 24, 2011

From: Preston, UK
Region: Other
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Planting, Trees
Title: Safe distance from foundation for Sycamore from Preston UK
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What would be the safe distance to have a sycamore tree near your house so it doesn't affect the foundations?

ANSWER:

We are deep in puzzlement. First, your e-mail address was Preston, with "UK" for a state, which gave our website hiccups. But when we looked at your address, we realized you were really from the UK. There are a lot of Prestons in the United States and a whole bunch of Prestons in the UK, but at least we know what continent we're talking about now. Next puzzle: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, in Austin, Texas is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native to North America and in those areas where each plant grows natively. We can talk about sycamores native to North America but know zip about the ones in England.

We could just say "sorry, we don't do England," but our curiosity is piqued, so we thought we would see what we could find when we search on "sycamores in England" on the Internet. This brought us to the website tree2mydoor.com Sycamore, where we learned:

"There is an ongoing dispute as to whether Sycamore is a native British tree, but is now by far our commonest species of maple."

Our common sycamore, Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore), is of the genus Platanus, species occidentalis. It is a member of the Plantanaceae, or sycamore, family. To us, the Acer genus is from the Acereaceae, or maple, family, which is what the excerpt above calls your tree. According to the link above, the scientific name is Acer pseudoplatanus, which can be loosely translated as a maple that looks like a sycamore, but isn't ("pseudo").

All this still doesn't really answer your question, we have just come closer to understanding what your question is. Since we will not have this tree in our native plant database, here is a factsheet on it from the British point of view.

Now that we know we are talking about a maple, not a sycamore, here is a link to an article on the roots of maples. Our general advice on roots near a foundation is that the roots of a tree will extend out at least 2 to 3 times farther than the dripline or shade line of the tree. Our experience is that maple roots can be very invasive, often above the soil surface, and interfering with hardscape such as sidewalks, patios and, yes, house foundations.

 

From the Image Gallery


American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

More Non-Natives Questions

Winter-hardiness of hibiscus in Idaho
June 14, 2009 - I bought a hibiscus tree at Sam's Club in Idaho Falls and after planting it, I read the label which says not to go below 50 degrees. Does that mean it is an inside or potted tree to bring in in the ...
view the full question and answer

Planting non-native peach seed from Archdale NC
September 13, 2010 - Planting and watering peach seeds. Can you give advice for my 12 year old who has recently planted some peach seeds in our yard in Archdale NC? Is the fall okay for planting? Watering instructions? I...
view the full question and answer

Color in non-native portulaca from Beach Haven NJ
July 21, 2011 - I bought a portulaca in a hanging basket and divided it up and planted it in my garden. It is doing ok..but I have almost entirely orange flowers..maybe two reds. I was hoping for multi-colored..red...
view the full question and answer

What is hollowing out my rosebuds in Austin, TX?
April 28, 2012 - I recently noticed some of my rose buds had been hollowed out from the inside. I have seen no evidence of insect though. What do you think it is and how can I treat the problem?
view the full question and answer

Sheet mulching before planting Habiturf from Grand Prairie, TX
March 03, 2014 - Have you tried sheet mulching as a bed prep and to kill bermuda grass before planting habituff?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center