I have a tree on my property that looks like it's not doing too well this year, leaves are very scanty, and may have to be cut down. I'd like some help identifying it, so I can determine if it's worth sawing it into boards for woodworking. It's a tall hardwood about 40-50' in height. The leaves are maple-like (at least to my eye) but very large. Last year they were quite abundant, and typically about 6-8" in diameter. The tree also produced spherical seed pods last year, about quarter-sized. The seed pods are smooth, not spiny. The limbs have a wavy sort of shape to them.

I'm located in eastern Maine (the Bangor area). One relative suggested it might be tulipwood, but nothing I've read online about tulipwood mentions the seed pods. I haven't seen any blossoms, but that might be because it's in poor health. (I bought the house in September so I wouldn't have been around for last year's blossoms.)

Pictures taken June 27:

tree leaves bark

  • For future reference Joe, wood ID questions (and by extension tree IDs) are outside the scope of this SE as defined in the Help Centre here.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 6:57

1 Answer 1


Depending what you mean by "smooth" for the seedpods, sycamore is my best guess, though the bark is not nearly as classically peely as is typical. But the leaf is a dead ringer, and it's sure not tuliptree.

Sycamore Platanus occidentalis:

Sycamore leaf from depauw univeritySycamore fruit from depauw univerity

Tulip Poplar, AKA tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera:

tulip poplar leaf from depauw univeritytulip poplar fruit from depauw univerity

  • That does look like it! Bonus question: is it good for any kind of woodworking?
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 2:30
  • Yes, though it can be troublesome, so many sawyers avoid it. An enlightening thread: woodweb.com/knowledge_base/… also here: wood-database.com/sycamore
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 2:35
  • @Joe If the tree needs to come down and you can plank up the trunk without incurring high costs it's worth taking a chance on it since many less-favoured woods commercially are still perfectly reasonable wood, it's just that from a commercial perspective if it's hard to maintain specific colouring, the demand for the wood is low and other factors they won't bother usually.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 7:08
  • @Joe About drying, I presume you know that after planking the wood should be stickered and left to season for a good long while? Once planked you'd need to wait at least a year usually and sometimes quite a bit longer before thinking about using it. Oh BTW, short lengths of some of the limbs would be worth keeping too if you might ever get into turning and as stock for tool handles.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 7:10
  • 1
    @aaron - this is "false" sycamore, or sycamore maple, acer occidentalus, not "real" sycamore, platanus occidentalis. Its figure is much like any maple, with the occasional wavy grain, but is not the beautiful lace of quartersawn sycamore. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 20:49

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