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An American sycamore, like you’ve never seen one before

by Timber Press on September 29, 2013

in Gardening

Seeing Trees author Nancy Ross Hugo

When it comes to nature, and our place in it, we are asked to see the big picture, to recognize that all things are part of a single, larger whole. To see the forest for the trees. In Seeing Trees, Nancy Ross Hugo suggests that to truly appreciate nature’s vitality we must get up close. “There is a tendency,” she writes of trees, “to view them almost like monuments—impressive but inanimate.”

“The real tree, with its enormous trunk and impossibly weighty limbs, can be experienced and understood only by standing under it, with your feet firmly planted under its canopy. Only then can you appreciate its massive bulk, its presence, and its ineffable relationship to you—small, short-lived life form that you are.”

Assisted by Robert Llewellyn’s magnificent photography, Hugo reveals the endearing details of a number of our most common trees with the hope that growing awareness will “help make the world safer for trees.” With that in mind, we’d like to show you one tree in particular, the American sycamore, like you’ve never seen it before.

Bark sloughed off by American sycamore often gathers under the trees and along rivers and streams where it dries and curls into phantasmagorical shapes.

This close-up view reveals the downy hairs covering American sycamore stems and leaves. Collar-like fused stipules and new leaves are also visible emerging from the stem on the bottom.

American sycamore balls, made up of tightly aggregated seeds (achenes), usually remain on the tree over the winter and break up the following spring, dispersing their seeds.

On this twig, male American sycamore flowers appear in the lower right (the greenish ball), female flowers in the upper left (the reddish ball).

In fall, American sycamore leaves turn shades of gold and brown.

The American sycamore, in all its glory.


Click image for a look inside this book:


My favorite new book this season…made for us nearsighted gardeners, who long ago learned the thrill of peering at plants. —Dominique Browning

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Johanna April 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

Beautiful & fascinating. This book is going on my ‘wish list’.

2 Sue D April 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

Love the photography!

3 Barbara H. April 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

4 Dianne April 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

This book looks great, the close up photos are interesting.

5 Carol FosterHall April 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

I absolutely love sycamores. Thanks for the wonderful photos!

6 Lewis E. Ward, Figure in the Wood April 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

Love this riparian species.

7 Diane Artz Furlong April 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

I have an ongoing painting series called Sycamore. I think they are the most extravagantly beautiful trees.

8 sooz7 April 27, 2012 at 9:44 am

Looks like a wonderful book! Want it.

9 Debbie Walton April 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

I’m going to get this book whether I win or not!!!

10 Jeannie Van Popta April 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

Beautiful pictures!

11 Cindy B April 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

I love how muscular the older sycamores are. I’m geeky that way about trees. This book is going on my wishlist, too!

12 Amanda April 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

Beautiful! I have always loved trees and taking photos of trees. For some reason in the middle of winter I find them to be so unique and striking with all their leaves off. I’m definitely going to have to check this book out.

13 Sara April 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

I would love to read this book, and share it with my kids.

14 Liz April 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

This is a fun look at trees.

15 Cathy Fruhauf April 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I am a ‘tree hugger’……set up an Arbor Day program for our community this week with presenter Mary Kramarchyk,Coordinator for Urban Forestry with New York DEC, sponsored by out Garden Club….would love to receive this set of books to further our gardening education projects. Hope everyone is keeping Arbor Day in mind year round.

16 Donna April 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Love the photos. So often we’re rushing from place to place and completely ignore trees leafing out, until one day we think “When did this happen – and where was I?”

17 Ryan April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

To bad sycamores don’t grow in Northern Minnesota.

18 Donna May 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

Trees are free A/C!

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