Tree Questions

Do Sycamore Trees Shed Their Bark?

I remember how much admiration I had for the giant sycamore tree at the end of our driveway when we moved into our current house. I still appreciate that tree, but I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn.

Do sycamore trees shed their bark? Sycamore trees consistently shed their bark throughout the growing seasons. This shedding is most intense in the hottest months of summer and following windstorms or heavy rains, but you can expect it to occur throughout the majority of the year.

Now that we’ve covered the quick and easy answer, let’s dive into exactly what’s going on here.

What Kind of Bark Shedding to Expect From a Sycamore Tree

There’s no way around it: sycamore trees are some of the most notorious shedders in the tree world.

How much bark you can expect a sycamore tree to shed depends upon a few different variables, but just know that a sycamore tree at maturity will shed quite a lot. Needless to say, these are not the best trees for landowners looking for a meticulous lawn and garden.

Mature Trees Shed From Branches and the Trunk

You can expect that bark will be shed on a wide range underneath your sycamore tree. This is because the bark is shed from the trunk of the tree and any branch larger than an inch or two in diameter.

As you might expect, your sycamore tree will create a consistent need for cleaning up and therefore is definitely one of the messiest trees around. The shedding is most aggressive with more mature sycamore trees, as they have a larger network of branches and a larger trunk.

If you’d like to read more about what to expect from your sycamore tree, you can read this post that goes into greater detail regarding its shedding tendencies.

A Permanent Bark May Take Over Mature Trunks From the Ground Up

You might notice some of the more mature sycamore trees in your area have a scaley bark that starts at the base of the trunk and tends to make its way up the tree. This bark doesn’t appear to shed, and it ends up covering the area that used to be covered by the previously shed multicolored plate bark.

As I mentioned earlier, this pattern is mostly visible on more mature sycamore trees, but it does seem to be a rather common occurrence once they reach a certain age. This doesn’t appear to occur until sycamore trees are reaching an older age.

Younger Trees Still Shed, Just Not Nearly as Much

All that said, younger sycamore trees do happen to shed their bark; they just don’t do it in such high volumes. Therefore you may not consider that younger sycamore tree to be that much of a nuisance from a lawn care vantage point, but you can expect that tree to quickly grow into one.

One of the reasons why sycamore trees are so frequently included in suburban landscapes is that they grow so quickly. Combined with their tolerance of environments with excessive air pollution, you can see why they’re such a commonly found tree in the suburbs. You can expect a younger sycamore tree to start shedding quite a lot by the time it’s about 25 years old.

When Sycamore Trees Shed Their Bark

Any observant owner of a sycamore tree has probably already realized this, but these trees are constantly shedding something the entire year-round. Whether they are dropping their leaves for some reason in the dead cold of winter or shedding bark and branches the rest of the year, these trees are quite messy.

You can expect your sycamore tree to primarily shed bark during the growing season. It does seem that a small amount of bark may be shed during the winter months, but it is pretty minimal. As you probably can guess, your peak shedding months will occur while growth is fastest during the hot summer months.

Shedding does occur consistently throughout these months, but you can expect an event like a windstorm or heavy rain to knock down additional pieces of bark. You’ll likely also find a variety of branches down after a major storm event like that, as the limbs of a sycamore tree are known to be rather weak. Long story short, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Shed Sycamore Bark: an Excellent Fire Kindling

For as much as I could complain about the constant shedding of the sycamore tree, I have to admit that it’s a pretty great source for kindling.

Between the shed bark and the dead branches, a mature sycamore tree provides everything you need to start an almost endless amount of backyard campfires.

Final Thoughts

Well I hope you enjoyed this post and came away having learned a thing or two about the mighty sycamore tree. It may be a bit of a pain in the butt to manage, but it’s still a pretty unique tree that gives a lot of beauty to a landscape. A big part of that is the patchwork of multi-colored bark that sheds so easily.

If you found this post interesting and you’re looking for more to learn, feel free to check out any of the below posts:

By Drew Meulemans

I've long admired forests and devote much energy to learning about them and exploring. I enjoy sharing what I learn and wish to inspire others to do the same.