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Reproduction of the American sycamore

Reproduction of the American sycamore

The American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L., 1753), is a plant of the Platanaceae family, native to North America.

Suitable breeding habitat –
The American sycamore is a tree native to the United States and Canada, with a range that extends from the states bordering the Atlantic to the Great Plains and from Ontario to Texas.
However, the plant has spread to other countries, such as Europe, where it was imported in 1636, but it has never been considered of great economic interest and is not widely cultivated even as an ornamental.
In its native range, it is often found in riparian and marshy areas. It is also present in territories ranging from Iowa to Ontario and New Hampshire in the north, Nebraska in the west and south to Texas and Florida while it appears to have disappeared in Maine.

Propagation –
The American sycamore is a plant that prefers humid and deep soils even if not very draining.
However, the plant requires a sunny exposure and tolerates atmospheric pollution so it can also adapt to urban environments.
It is a plant that once established is quite resistant to drought and is a fairly fast growing and long-lived tree.
It is a fairly wind-resistant tree so it can be grown as a windbreak.
Propagation occurs by seed. Germination improves after two months of cold stratification and sowing should be done in spring in an unheated seedbed.
Seeds grown at home do not give good results and even the seedlings have little vitality; it is therefore advisable to collect the seed at the end of winter or spring and then sow it immediately in an unheated seedbed.
The young seedlings must be placed in single pots, grown in a sheltered place, for the first year, and then transplanted in the open field in spring until the beginning of summer and in any case after the last foreseen frosts.
It can also be propagated agamically, through cuttings of mature wood of the current year of 20 – 30 cm, to be rooted in the autumn in an unheated seedbed.

Ecology –
The American sycamore is a plant that, especially in its range of origin, is sometimes cultivated for timber but has also naturalized in some areas outside its native range, such as in Argentina and Australia, where it is quite widespread throughout the continent, especially in colder southern states like Victoria and New South Wales.
Due to its characteristics it is a tree able to withstand the environment of a large city; in the past it was widely used as a shade tree, but due to the disfiguring effects of anthracnose its presence has significantly diminished.
Its wood has been widely used for butcher blocks, boxes and crates; although coarse-grained and difficult to work with, it has also been used to make furniture, upholstery and musical instruments.
Furthermore, studies have been carried out on its use as a biomass crop.
In nature it grows mainly on very humid or even marshy soils. In the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers there are the most impressive specimens. In America it is cultivated to obtain lumber to be used for cabinet making and to make furniture.
In addition, the sweet sap of this plant is tapped in spring and used in the preparation of syrup and sugar.
From this species, it is believed that Platanus x hispanica, or the common plane tree, originated precisely in Europe, through spontaneous crossing with Platanus orientalis.

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