The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is a large and familiar tree found primarily east of the Mississippi River. Many people recognize it by its mottled bark revealing patches of brown and white color. Usually sycamore trees are found close to water and that is the case at the Falls of the Ohio. I have a favorite stand of these trees, but they are remarkable for reasons other than their size.
I can remember when I first came across these trees, I had the feeling that they were trying to uproot themselves and walk away. The exposed root systems in these specimens are elaborate. I wonder if the riverbank was more extensive at some earlier point in the development of these trees and eroded away due to flooding? Sycamores can be fast growing trees, but these examples don’t appear to be that old.
Their roots snake across the riverbank nearly touching the water and are very picturesque. I have used this location as a backdrop to photograph some of my sculptures. I did this most recently for a work entitled “Audubon’s Apotheosis”. Within the aggregate that makes up a sycamore’s seed ball is a small sphere that I have used for eyes in some of my figures. I also like the yellow-green color of the leaves this time of year. Here’s one last shot of a particularly “Ent-ish” tree, its dropped leaves swirling around its amazing roots.