|Sycamore tree in winter. Photo by Diane Weidenbenner.|
Happy Earth Day 2017!
This winter, while walking beside Big Raccoon Creek near the Bridgeton Grist Mill in Bridgeton, Indiana, my friend and I noticed this beautiful, notty white-barked tree.
It’s leaves were long gone but hanging from the tree were one-inch woody balls attached by small branches. Upon research with Google, we discovered this beautiful tree was a Sycamore, and the balls were actually the fruit of the tree that ripened in October and broke up into many small seeds throughout season.
|Sycamore “fruit”. Photo by Diane Weidenbenner.|
There were still very large leaves gathered at the bottom of the tree, along with fallen fruit. Although Sycamore trees may look dead in winter (no leaves, bark peeling and falling off), the trees can actually live over 500 years, preferring deep river-bottom soils.
The trees are so prominent in Indiana, and the Wabash Valley, that you’ll notice everything from apartment buildings and streets to the Indiana State Sycamores (the NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic team) sporting the name.
After discovering these beauties on my own, I did a little Google search for the tree in Indiana. For example, Sycamore trees are known for getting quite large and the biggest big tree in the DNR 2010 Register was a 136-foot tall Sycamore in Johnson County with a trunk more than 25-feet around.
There’s a page on the Internet that talks about “Indiana’s largest tree – the old Sycamore.” The decayed tree was located in Greene County until a storm destroyed it in 1925. The age of the tree in 1915 was estimated to be 500 years old and it reached a height of 150 feet. There is a sign erected in front of the last limb at Worthington Park, where the smaller branch of the tree remains, on public display.
The Visitindiana.com website lists Indiana as home to the “world’s largest Sycamore Stump”, located in Kokomo. It is 57 feet in circumference and 12 feet high. The tree was nearly 800 years old before storms tore it down. The stump has been displayed in Highland Park since 1916.
Who knew we had located such a stalwart tree, when we found the fallen fruit and “resting” trunk, next to the rushing waters of Big Raccoon Creek? Winter is such an important time for plants as they ready themselves for another green, moist promising spring in Indiana. I’d like to visit the tree again now, to see it in all its leafy glory.