We found this tree in Southern Illinois a few miles from the Kentucky line. Can you identify this large-leafed tree? Here's a photo of the tree and of a dried leaf.

Unknown tree

Dried leaf

  • Does the tree appear to be in the wild or could it have been planted? Acer macrophyllum has leaves of around that size, though usually somewhat more lobed, it's native to the Pacific coast though. Oct 16, 2018 at 12:26
  • "Sycamores" ( American usage) , Are common and grow very well in that location. With a couple years growth , the bark would show the colorful mottling. Oct 19, 2018 at 16:27
  • The tree is in the wild and has grown from the stump of a tree that was cut down. Perhaps the growth is too new to have developed the mottling.
    – Embry
    Oct 19, 2018 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


It's possible it's a Sycamore Platanus occidentalis, but it would be easier with a close up of the bark, a farther back photo of the whole tree and especially the fruit or seeds it produces.

Sycamore would be very easy to verify or dismiss based on the fruit. Refer to the photos on this page: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a891

  • Note: you may not call it "Sycamore", because Platanus occidentalis is not the species most commonly named "Sycamore", and for sure, not the biblical one. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sycamore Oct 16, 2018 at 7:00
  • 1
    Common names can be whatever you want, a Latin name was given to avoid confusion. Sycamore is quite confusing because outside of North America, Platanus sp. are called plane trees whilst sycamore usually refers to Acer pseudoplatanus. Which is even more confusing because the plant is named because of the similarity of the leaves to Platanus sp. Worse still, the London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) is named because its leaves look like sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) leaves. Ain't nomenclature fun. Oct 16, 2018 at 12:12
  • 2
    That said non-convinced about the ident - leaves look too big for P. occidentalis. Oct 16, 2018 at 12:12
  • My guess would be some species of what Brits call "sycamore" - not only from the general shape of the leaves, but the straggly habit of the whole tree (thin non-vertical trunk etc - they tend to grow very tall very fast, and then spend 50 years thickening the wood out to more sensible-looking proportions)
    – alephzero
    Oct 16, 2018 at 20:24
  • 1
    @GiacomoCatenazzi with no disrespect intended to the early translators of the bible, correctly naming plants and animals was most definitely not their speciality!
    – alephzero
    Oct 16, 2018 at 20:27

I am guessing Acer macrophyllum, Big Leaf Maple. A young maple will have this smooth bark. I have only seen maple leaves this large belonging to this species. Big Leaf Maple

Only one problem, it is usually found in the Pacific Northwest down to California. They do find this tree almost everywhere in the states.

  • Hmm, the leaf doesn't appear to be the right shape.
    – Embry
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:15
  • I am thinking Acer pseudoplatanus based on the shape of the leaf?
    – stormy
    Oct 19, 2018 at 21:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.