Platanus occidentalis

Sycamore (American Sycamore; Grant Noll Sycamore)

 

265 Plane Tree Drive, Lancaster PA

 

Jim Kendig; Mike Kellam; Don Anderson; Corrinne H. Smith

 

This tree sits near the old Grant Noll farmhouse and is probably between 330-370 years old (arborists estimated “over 250 years old” in 1900). In 1981, Halfred Wertz and Joy Calendar opined that “a more pathetic yet heroic sight would be hard to find in the world of trees” (Penn’s Woods 1682-1982: The Oldest Trees in Pennsylvania…). This tree is in fact a Penn Charter Tree, i.e., a tree in Pennsylvania that has been living since William Penn first visited the state almost 340 years ago (very few Penn Trees are still alive).

 

In its heyday (1920), this tree was declared Pennsylvania’s “most massive tree”, but age and a lightning strike in 1957 have taken their toll. Still, the tree in 2014 had a trunk circumference of 300 inches, a height of 69.5 feet, and a spread of 117 feet (pabigtrees.com). Two nearby roads (Plane Tree Drive and Old Tree Drive), as well as the surrounding industrial park (Old Sycamore Industrial Park), are this tree’s namesakes.

This is the second largest sycamore in Lancaster County and ranks 25th in Pennsylvania (a tree in Manheim is the county's largest and ranks 6th state- wide (pabigtrees.com).  Of course, if the Grant Noll Sycamore's trunk was whole, its CBH (and thus overall size) would be even greater. How long ago this tree grew upright is not known.

 

Corrinne Smith visited Old Sycamore as a Girl Scout in the late 1960s when it was surrounded by cornfields, and then again 50 years later after the fields had been replaced by a four-lane highway, businesses and eateries. “We can be proud of the tree’s history and its stamina,” she said, “and we can admire it for as long as it is able to live with us.” [thoreaufarm.org, Dec. 5, 2014]