Platanus racemosa Woodland Alliance
California sycamore woodlands

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormTree
  • Elevation0-2400 m
  • State RarityS3
  • Global RarityG3
  • DistributionUSA: CA. Baja California, Mexico (TJM2)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsYes
  • Date Added1995/11/01

Characteristic Species

Platanus racemosa is dominant or co-dominant in the tree canopy with Alnus rhombifolia, Juglans californica, Populus fremontii, Quercus agrifolia, Quercus lobata, Salix exigua, Salix gooddingii, Salix laevigata, Salix lasiolepis, Salix lutea, Schinus molle and Umbellularia californica.

Vegetation Layers

Trees < 35 m; canopy is open to intermittent. Shrub layer is open to intermittent. Herbaceous layer is sparse or grassy.

Membership Rules

  • Platanus racemosa > 30% relative cover in tree canopy; Quercus agrifolia, Salix species, or Populus fremontii may be co-dominant. (Evens and San 2005, Klein and Evens 2005, Keeler-Wolf and Evens 2006, Stillwater Sciences and URS 2007).
  • Platanus racemosa > 5% absolute cover in tree layer; in mixed stands, Populus fremontii < 5% absolute cover in the tree canopy (Potter 2005).
  • Platanus racemosa > 50% relative cover in the tree layer (Keeler-Wolf et al. 1997).


Gullies, intermittent streams, springs, seeps, stream banks, and terraces adjacent to floodplains that are subject to high-intensity flooding. Soils are rocky or cobbly alluvium with permanent moisture at depth. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (1996 national list) recognizes Platanus racemosa as a FACW plant.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) California sycamore series
NVCS (2009) Platanus racemosa temporarily flooded woodland alliance
Calveg California sycamore
Holland Central Coast cottonwood-sycamore riparian forest, Sycamore alluvial woodland, Southern sycamore-alder riparian woodland
Munz Not treated
WHR Valley foothill riparian
CDFW CA Code 61.310.00

National Vegetation Classification Hierarchy

Formation Class Mesomorphic Tree Vegetation (Forest and Woodland)
Formation Subclass Temperate Forest
Formation Temperate Flooded and Swamp Forest
Division Western North America Warm Temperate Flooded and Swamp Forest
Macro Group Southwestern North American Riparian, Flooded and Swamp Forest
Group Southwestern North American riparian evergreen and deciduous woodland