American Sycamore  LbNA # 50300

Placed DateSep 9 2009
Location??, MO
Found ByMO UR4Me
Last UpdateOct 8 2011


American Sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

I've long had a special fondness for the sycamore. In A Pocket Guide to the Trees by Rutherford Platt, published in 1953, the author has the following to say. "Sycamore (also called plane tree or buttonwood) is the old giant. You know it at a glance by the white, purple, and gray patchwork quilt of its bark. Upper trunk and lower part of the limbs may be smooth, bright white all over. This dramatic bark has unforgettable splendor. On a clear winter day, when lighted by brightness from snow, it is like nothing else in treedom. ...... Sycamore grows only the inner layer of its bark every year. This living bark becomes white on exposure to the sun and the bark of previous years, not growing and therefore not expanding to fit around the bigger trunk, is forced off the tree in patches. In effect the tree is bursting its breeches. Varied tints are due to the number of years' exposure of the older layers before they fall off. Sunlight turns bark chemicals gold, brown and blue -gray." His book is fun to read. He really loves trees. I can understand that!

The American Sycamore is one of three species of the family Platanacene which are native to the United States. It is a massive tree, frequently attaining a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 3 to 10 feet. There has been one tree reported with a diameter of 14 feet. No other American hardwood exceeds its girth. The leaves are broadly ovate, 4 to 8 inches across, with shallow lobes. The fruit is a brown ball about 1 inch in diameter composed of many seeds bunched tightly together. When the ball matures, the seed on its fuzzy projection is dispersed by wind and water.
Sycamore wood is tough and moderately hard, but because it has a tendency to warp unless carefully dried, its use in construction is limited. It may, however, be used in furniture, drawer sides, boxes, barrels and butcher blocks . Quarter sawn sycamore makes particularly beautiful paneling.

Sycamores are typical of moist soils and are common along streams. However, because of their high resistance to industrial fumes, and its rapid growth, they has been used extensively in some areas as shade tree plantings along streets.

The area in which this box is placed has many sycamore trees - old towering giants and new sprouts. NOTE: This box requires crossing a creek that can sometimes be pretty high. Not to be attempted after a heavy rain.
Green ink suggested.

The first part of this clue has been encrypted using a simple Caesar cipher which means that the letters in the encryption have been shifted to the right of the original message by a certain number of spaces. For example: If the encrypted message reads QIYYIW and you are instructed to shift 5 spaces, you would go back 5 spaces to the left to find that Q = L, I = E, Y + T and W = R, which would make the solution LETTER. For this clue you will need to find the cube root of 729 and shift back by that number.


Drive down a slightly winding road and park in the lot at the end. Pass the red gate near the large shelter house and walk down the trail. The shelter house should be on your right. Pass the white rock drainage on the left and continue to an intersection. Go right on the path until you reach a small clearing with a picnic table and a fire pit. From the fire pit head south to the creek. Look for a small twisted river birch with exposed roots and a small hole about 5 feet up on the trunk. The hole faces the creek. Look across the creek at 154 degrees to locate a tall slender sycamore at the edge of the creek. To the left of the sycamore is a steep dirt / mud path uphill. Pick your best way across the creek and go up the path. Go left on the trail at the top. Ignore the short offshoot trails to your left - unless you want to make a short detour to take in the view.
Continue down into the wooded area. After a bit you will pass three large downed logs -one parallel to the path , one lying uphill to the left and one lying downhill to the right. About 20 paces farther along the trail you will find a large 3-forked tree on the right. A long fallen tree lies at an angle over the path with its top caught between two of the forks. Walk under the captive and go about 16 more paces. Look uphill a bit to your left to spot a small tree with a vine looped around its trunk. After another 16 paces there will be a long log lying parallel to the path on the right. It appears that the two were once joined at the base. On the left side, with its root end uphill, lies a very long log that has been broken in two not far from its end. On the right side of that log lies a shorter one. Go uphill to the root end of the larger log. (I found that going up on the right of the smaller log was the easiest way.) Although the large tree was probably not a sycamore, you will find the American Sycamore box in a hole in the right side of the root end (as you face it). It is in a camo covered container protected by wood and leaves. Please try to put it back like it was and make sure that it is covered. Thanks!

Enjoy you visit to this area. Id like to hear from you about your adventures. Please let me know if the box is missing or if it needs maintenance.