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American Sycamore vs London Planetree

These species are similar and are easily confused when they occur together, such as in parks in riparian areas where both wild and planted trees are found. Mature trees are easily distinguished by differences in bark and seeds. London Plane is common in landscaping, occasionally escapes cultivation, and is established in the wild in a few areas. American sycamore is common in riparian areas and occasionally used in landscaping.

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

London Planetree (Platanus ×hispanica)

A large native tree of floodplains and riparian areas, with characteristic mottled bark, especially higher up on trunk and upper branches.
A planetree of hybrid origin, widely used in urban landscaping. Established in the wild in a few regions in the northeast and California.
Mottling on bark starts higher up on mature trees. Base of trunk has thicker, dark brown bark.
Photo © , CC BY-SA 4.0.
Mottling on bark, exposing the thin inner layers, usually goes the whole way to the base of the trunk, even on mature trees.
Photo © S Brian Treelife, Public Domain.
Inner layer of mottled bark is whitish.
Photo © Reuven Martin, Public Domain.
Inner layer of mottled bark is yellowish.
Photo © stuartfraser, CC BY 4.0.
Only one seedhead on each stalk.
Photo © , CC BY-SA 4.0.
Seedheads borne in clusters of 2-3 on the same stalk.
Photo © Tony Rebelo, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Lobes sometimes less pronounced. Center lobe, if well-defined, is often wider than it is long.
Photo © Katja Schulz, CC BY 4.0.
Lobes more pronounced. Center lobe usually longer than it is wide.
Photo © Stephen James McWilliam, CC BY 4.0.