Q: I have a large sycamore tree behind my office that is dropping its seed balls. Can I gather them and scatter the seeds in the woods behind my house to have more trees?
A: Sycamore is sometimes called buttonwood tree, referring to the seed balls that hang from twigs. They mostly stay on the tree all winter, then fall apart in early spring, dispersing the light-weight, white, fluffy seeds inside. Collect seed balls now and spread them in a cool, dry spot. When fully dry you’ll be able to crush them to pieces, revealing the true seeds. Plant them outdoors in spring.
A similar tree grows in Europe. It is interesting to note that the London plane tree is actually a hybrid between two tree species, the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and the Oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis).
American sycamore usually has a single seed pod while London plane tree typically has two clustered together.