About the Cover
This sycamore leaf was found at Wheeler Gorge campground. Wheeler Gorge is a large beautiful family campground along the Matilija Creek just above Ojai, California (view a map of the area).
Sycamore Platanus racemosa
The California sycamore is long-lived and grows up to 100 feet tall.
The tree usually has multiple trunks that can be up to five feet in diameter.
These trunks are often reclining and resting along the ground. The sycamore
is an overstory/canopy species that is deciduous. It reproduces through
its wind-pollinated flowers and wind-dispersed fruits (achenes) that can
be carried for very long distances. A California sycamore's presence attests
to the perennial abundance of near-surface water. It is an obligate phreatophyte,
meaning the tree needs access to ground water within the root zone. If
traveling along the intermittent streams of the southern coast ranges
and southern California, you would notice that California sycamore is
a dominant tree of these areas. It forms open woodlands along the terraces.
In California's northern parts however, its dominance diminishes.
The white bark with the chips of brown spotted here and there make for a beautiful trunk. Notice there is not much growing under many sycamores in the wild? Many gardeners use sycamore wood chips for mulch because they reduce plant growth.
Early History of the Plane Tree
Legend says that Plato's class used to meet under the boughs of a plane tree and that Hippocrates II (Fifth Century BCE) taught medicine under a wide plane-tree on the island of Kos in the Mediterranean. Pliny the Elder recorded a famous plane-tree that grew in the walks at the Academy of Athens.
Another plane-tree is connected with the Emperor Gaius Caligula, who on an estate at Velitrae was impressed by the 'flooring' of a single plane-tree and the horizontal branches serving as seats; he held a banquet in the tree, the leaves provided partial awning in a dining room spacious enough to hold fifteen guests and the servants. Caligula called this dining-room his 'eyrie'." (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book XII, pre-79 CE, trans. John F. Healy)
Plant identification from CSUPomona
Stories of a famous Sycamore
A Champion Sycamore
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