Buttonball-tree - Buttonwood
Platanus occidentalis Linnaeus
Platanaceae (Sycamore) Family
The leaves are alternate, petiolate, ovate in outline, and 3-7 lobed. The margins are entire to coarsely serrate. The leaf surface is pubescent, becoming smooth with persistent hairs along the veins. The base of the leaf stalk is enlarged and encloses a bud. Stipules are large and have toothed margins. Leaves turn brownish-yellow before falling.
The flowers are produced in dense heads. Staminate heads are produced on axillary peduncles and pistillate heads are produced on terminal peduncles. The heads are reddish in color.
Fruit is a dense ball of achenes. The achenes separate over the winter and each individual achene has a tuff of tan hairs. The seed are consumed by many bird and small mammal species.
American Sycamore is fast growing and is often used as a street or shade tree. The wood is dense but brittle; often used for paper, inexpensive furniture, pallets, and butchers blocks. The tree is tolerant of pollution and is often planted in cities. It is available from many nurseries, and various cultivars are available.