(Buttonball, American Sycamore, American Planetree, Buttonwood)
The sycamore is a wonderful tree. In Kentucky fields and woods, it is a signal for a stream or creek. This, the tallest of the deciduous trees, marks the flood plain as its spotted white bark stands out against everything else. The sycamore grows only the inner bark which turns light on exposure to the sun. The old bark does not grow or expand to fit around the new and is forced off the tree in patches. Often in the woods, the largest are wonderfully hollow and large enough for a person to stand inside. Early settlers often "lived" in hollow trees until their log cabins were finished.
The tree is further distinguished by the brown balls which hang from the branches in winter. These are the seeds which will hold together until spring when the wind will blow them apart and fill the air with them like a child blows a dandelion puffball.
(Rock Maple, Hard Maple)
This is the tree the New Englanders love both for its gorgeous fall colors and for its ability to produce sap needed in syrup and sugar. The slow-growing tree can become one hundred feet tall and is very hearty. The leaves which turn such vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow in autumn are as long as they are wide with five deep pointed lobes and five main veins from the base to the ends of the lobes. Indians taught the settlers how to collect and boil the sap for maple syrup and sugar. It takes thirty-two gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup of four pounds of sugar. The wood is prized for flooring and veneers. Under abnormal growing conditions, buds cannot develop and force their way through the bark. Then the wood must grow around it forming the especially desirable "bird's eye" maple. In Kentucky we plant the tree solely for its ornamental and shaded value.