Platanus Occidentalis: the botanical name for the Eastern American Sycamore. It is the largest tree that grows east of the Mississippi River. Liriodendron Tulipifera, the Tuliptree, may grow taller in some instances, but the Sycamore generally has a more massive trunk and will outweigh it in sheer mass. The large sheets of peeling bark give this tree an unmistakable appearance and they stand out along the riverbanks and lowlands of Eastern North America.
Native Americans valued the Sycamore and many tribes had a multitude of uses for it. Many medicines were made from the bark and leaves and canoes were hollowed out from the long, straight trunks. The Cherokee believed that fire first came to Earth as lightning striking a Sycamore tree. From treatments for cuts and wounds, to infant rash, the Sycamore was used in many ways by the Native Americans. They even made a slightly sweet drink from its sap, although the Sugar Maple was more desirable for this purpose.
The European settlers also had many uses for the Sycamore tree. It grew quickly, and had a good, strong wood. From chopping blocks, wagon wheels, crates and boxes,Image to paper pulp, the Sycamore quickly became a multi-purpose tree. It was one of the first trees purposely planted for commercial harvest