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Platanus racemosa (California sycamore)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Platanus racemosa

Platanus racemosa Nutt.

California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Aliso

Platanaceae (Plane-tree Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Tree with enlarged base, stout trunk, often branched near base, and broad, irregular, open crown of thick, spreading branches. The California sycamore is a 75 ft., deciduous tree that will grow 15-20 ft. in the first 5-10 years. The main trunk often divides into ascending or almost prostrate secondary stems, and the thick, contorted branches form a majestic, irregular, open crown. The mottled white bark and deeply five-lobed leaves with moderate fall color are attractive features.

Common in the valleys of California, it is also a shade and ornamental tree. Giant trees with massive, barrel-shaped trunks often lean and fork into picturesque shapes. The champion, at Santa Barbara, California, when measured in 1945, was 116' (35.4 m) high, 27' (8.2 m) in trunk circumference, and 158' (48.2 m) in crown spread. The mottled bark and coarse, light green foliage are distinctive.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Usually up to about 75 feet tall. Can be much taller.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr


Native Distribution: C. & s. California, Baja California, Sonora, and Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico
Native Habitat: Stream banks below 4000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist soils.


Description: Propagation by seed is possible.
Seed Treatment: Cool-moist stratification for 30-90 days at 40 degrees in sand, peat, or sandy loam enhances germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FAC FACW
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Platanus racemosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Platanus racemosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Platanus racemosa


Record Modified: 2015-12-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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