Jan 26, 2011

sky behind a sycamore

No native tree is as easy to recognize as the sycamore. Its bark peels in unique ways, leaving smooth white branches and trunks that can not be mistaken. Sycamore trunks and branches curl and twist. In moonlight sycamores glow; in sunlight they offer odd shapes and shades of of green and brown.

An animal you would never suspect of using camouflage: huge, mint green luna moths, wings edged in thick purple with tails and eyespots, vanish against sycamore bark. Sycamores are most abundant along streams and rivers, happy with wet roots, thirsty, and the flush of spring turns their white bark green. Moths the size of your hand can be next to invisible perched on a sycamore.

Sycamore wood burns poorly and is difficult to cut and mill. With little productive value but an ability to stabilize streambanks, sycamores are often left alone when land is logged or cleared for pasture or development. Even where most trees are gone, majestic old sycamores might remain, doing no one any good except luna moths, stream dwellers and whatever depends on stream and river water being clean.

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