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1) Any of several deciduous trees of the genus Platanus, especially Platanus occidentalis (buttonwood) found in eastern North America. In Europe, they are commonly called plane trees. This tree has a pale, reddish-brown, close-grain wood that is tough and takes a fine polish. The wood is used for tool handles, rollers, flooring, furniture, crates, butcher blocks, musical instruments, and veneer. See London plane.

2) A type of maple tree, Acer pseudoplatanus, native to Europe and Asia. Also called harewood, the tree has a light colored wood with a straight grain and even texture. It is used for inlays, veneer, and millwork.

3) A fig tree, Ficus sycamorus, native to Africa and southwest Asia.

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Synonyms and Related Terms

1. Platanus occidentalis; American sycamore; American plane tree; harewood; buttonwood; buttonball; sycomore (Fr.)

Other Properties

1. Large tree growing to 40 m with spreading branches Bark=thin gray-brown exfoliating to form light patches. Fruit=ball containing tufted aches.

Density 22-43 ppcf

Paper fiber type: hardwood, diffuse porous. Using transmitted light microscopy, pulp is identified by variable-sized vessels with alternate pitting. Perforations are scalariform, typically on both ends. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: dark blue, but varies with bleaching. Common pulping method: kraft.

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 788
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 22-43 ppcf
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: sycamore" Encyclopædia Britannica [Accessed November 7, 2001].
  • Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
  • Website address 1 Comment: Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (Accessed Dec. 9, 2005)
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=24-37 ppcf (0.40-0.60 g/cm3)
  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli. Fiber Atlas: Identification of Papermaking Fibers (Springer Series in Wood Science). Springer, 1995.
  • Walter Rantanen. "Fiber ID Course." Integrated Paper Services. June 2013. Lecture.

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