Botany Blueprint: California Sycamore

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Specimen #17: California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

California Sycamore

And I cannot blame him. At first glance, the spiked pods resemble a medieval battle flail, more or less, at least that’s what he said, when explaining why he tended to kick them aside when walking with his dog and children. I agreed that they looked fearsome, and handed him a specimen and encouraged him to massage the ball. It dissolved into a hundred golden tufts of single seeded achenes. He smiled.

The California Sycamore

The transformation from foreboding globe to flight-ready winged seeds is truly incredible, and results in a cloud of Sycamore progeny that disperse by wind or water.

The California Sycamore

Naked from its ascendent achenes, the oblong core is engraved with irregularly shaped scars. It is a moonscape terrain, and each mark is the footprint of a seed that has departed to inhabit a new riparian terrain.

The California Sycamore

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