The Buttonball Tree – Sunderland, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

The Buttonball Tree

Sunderland, Massachusetts

This giant Massachusetts sycamore is said to hold the dubious distinction of being the "widest tree East of the Mississippi!" 


Bigger is better, as the the fans of Sunderland’s enormous Buttonball Tree would have you believe. This impressive specimen of flora, an American sycamore, towers above the small Massachusetts village of Sunderland at over 113 feet tall, with a spread of 140 feet, and a hefty girth of 24 feet and 7 inches—and it’s still growing.

Its age is just as remarkable as its size. The Buttonball Tree was around before not just your mother, not just your grandmother, not even just your great-grandmother, but before your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. A plaque in front of the tree recognizes it for “having lived here at the time of the signing of our Constitution,” placing its birthday/germination-day at least before 1787. Many think that it’s closer to 350 years old, and some estimate closer to 400, but either way, it’s certainly a relic of Sunderland’s old forests.

The term “buttonball” has often been used to describe Sycamore trees in general, but the size, age, and more than anything else, its fan base have led to this tree pretty much owning the name. So, if size truly matters to you—locals claim the Buttonball Tree is the biggest tree east of the Mississippi—pay a visit to the roadside sycamore. Just don’t try to climb it; that would be a long fall back down.

Know Before You Go

The tree is to the left side of the road (going north) and is marked by a plaque. The best parking is south down Main Street off of Warner Drive.

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