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Sycamore Fruits Ripening

Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis), well-known for their patchwork bark, produce their fruit in balls suspended by long stems.  The individual seeds clustered into these balls have brown hair-like structures at their base which help disperse them, but dispersal occurs gradually and the fruit often persist through the winter.

Although usually fruiting is prolific every year, there aren’t the number of Sycamores one might imagine sprouting near an established tree.  This is in part due to the fact that Sycamore seeds don’t germinate unless they land on very moist soil with lots of sunlight and little competition from other plants.  Once established, a Sycamore tree reduces competition by having fruits (and leaves) that produce compounds that inhibit the growth of other plants.

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