70913No other big tree has trunks as sculptural as those of the California sycamore, Platanus racemosa. They bend and groove so irregularly, seemingly without direction, that it is a wonder that old trees in the wild eventually get a hundred feet tall. Some trees have a few trunks. The mottled beige bark is quite striking both in the shade of the broad canopy, and while trees are bare in winter.

California sycamore is a surprisingly well behaved street tree, but only for a few decades or so. The roots are quite complaisant. The main problem is that the bulky trunk eventually gets wider than the parkstrip. Another problem is that such a big tree drops a huge volume of foliage in autumn, and then again in spring as anthracnose ruins much of the new foliage. The big palmate leaves are about eight inches wide, and covered with tomentum (fuzz) that is irritating to the skin.

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