Last weekend on the GardenLine radio show, a caller had a question about the Mexican sycamore (Plantanus Mexicanus). We talked a little about its great attributes, but since I haven’t written about it in over 15 years, one might wonder if it’s even still available in this area.
The answer is YES!
Let me tell you about my first encounter with a Mexican sycamore, and why it’s still one of my top 10 recommendations when people ask for ideas on fast-growing trees that adapt well to the wide array of soil conditions along the Gulf Coast.
I was introduced to the Mexican sycamore while writing my very first book, The Golfer’s Guide to Gardening. I had asked every tree expert I knew at the time to give me their list of the five shade trees they would recommend that would grow fast and work in our unique conditions. I was surprised that three of the five had listed it, because it was a tree I knew little about.
I asked, since I wasn’t too fond of sycamores in general, why I would want one in my landscape? They responded with a gush of attributes. First, this tree can reach 80-100 feet at maturity - typically 10-12 years - versus 20-25 years needed for most other trees to mature at only about 60 feet. Their leaves also have a unique maroon-like color early in spring. Then, for the summer, it shows off its most marketable attribute - leaves with silvery undersides that look like what most people desire in a silver leaf maple. That’s a tree I’d never recommend, because it will die in less than 12 years.
If a Mexican sycamore is properly cared for, it will last a lifetime and grow to nearly double the height of many other highly recommended tree varieties. For example, the American sycamore’s fast growth can lead to an early decline … but not near as early as silver leaf maples, hybrid poplars and eucalyptus.
Still, the Mexican sycamore is still a sycamore, so they are deciduous and have a major, unruly leaf drop in the fall.
If you’d like to try one out, two of our endorsed advertising partners sell them consistently:
Locally, they are grown commercially and wholesaled by Treesearch Farms, so you could also ask them to suggest other nearby nurseries and garden centers that might have them in stock.