2017

 
 

The London plane tree, or Platanus × acerifolia, is a tree in the genus Platanus which is a small genus of trees native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are the sole members of the family Platanaceae and are all large trees to over a 100 feet tall, mostly deciduous. They are known as Plane trees in the UK, and as Sycamores in North America. Plane trees are to London what Horse chestnuts are to Paris and Lindens are to Berlin. And the London plane tree is possibly the most magnificent of all "Boulevard trees". It starts out slender and pyramidal, and matures to a large and impressive tree 70 to 100 feet tall with massive branches. It has beautiful pale, grey-green, exfoliating bark which provides winter interest. Its leaves are quite large, seven inches across, alternate, simple, flat green with 3 to 5 lobes. They often develop a rich, deep-gold fall color. It is a grand tree in most respects and a good choice for parks and country properties where its size can be accommodated, and yet, it tolerates the most confining and harshest of urban conditions of limited growth area, compacted soils, heat and pollution. Little wonder then that this is the standard tree to which most urban planners turn.  It is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils, in full sun and is tolerant of light shade.
London plane tree is usually thought to be a hybrid of the Oriental Plane, Platanus orientalis and the American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis. It's been around for a while as it was first recorded in Spain in the 17th century, where the Oriental Plane and the American Plane had been planted in close proximity.
One caution about it is that many Plane trees are bothered by an anthracnose disease which causes die-back in the branches. Some of the new cultivars, such as 'Columbia' are more resistant. Whenever possible, seek out these  varieties.
London plane tree grows in the UK, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia. As always, the better cultivars are not likely to be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.

London plane tree

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