Arizona Sycamore

Arizona Sycamores (Platanus wrightii) are large, dramatic trees that grow where there is available surface or subsurface water in the canyons or washes around Tucson and throughout much of Arizona.

Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii) in Sabino Canyon

Arizona Sycamores are quite easy to identify because their smooth, white bark, hand-like leaves, and round, dangling 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter seed balls are quite unlike those of any other native trees found here.

Arizona Sycamores are very important in providing homes for birds, especially when these trees have dead branches that can form natural, rotted holes in broken branch ends or contain holes excavated by woodpeckers. Not only woodpeckers, but also owls and many other birds nest in these trees. Arizona Sycamores are the preferred nesting sites of Elegant Trogons (Trogon elegans). These beautiful, tropical birds, although rare, can be found nesting in tree cavities in a few riparian canyons here in Southern Arizona. I have only seen one Elegant Trogon in Arizona, and he was in an Arizona Sycamore, where he most likely had a nest.