London Plane Platanus x hispanica (P. x acerifolia WILD.)


The London plane tree is a natural hybrid between the oriental plane (Platanus orientalis L.), and the American plane or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis L.),and was first recorded about 1663. It is more resistant to frost than the parent trees and thus widespread throughout Europe all the way to the Baltic Sea. It is a large tree, reaching a height of 30 metres and a trunk diameter of 2 metres. Grown in the open it develops a huge spreading crown with thick branches and numerous strangely crooked branchlets. The bark peels off in thin flakes, exposing patches of pale yellow, inner bark. The distinctive buds are conical with a single cap-like scale. The male and female flowers, borne in small globose heads on long stalks, appear in May. The fruits are small downy nutlets borne in globose heads, which disintegrate in spring.

The London plane tree requires a fair amount of light and rich soil. It is popularly planted as an ornamental in city parks and streets because it tolerates the dusty and smoke-polluted atmosphere. It is also impressive as a solitary tree. The wood is hard, with darker heartwood.

Leaves: Palmatcly 3—5 lobed, sometimes irregularly toothed, 12—25 cm long, the central lobe broader at the base than it is long, the stalk expanded at the base to cover the axillary bud. Fruit: Cylindrical nutlets measuring 5—6 mm and borne in stalked globose heads measuring 2—3 cm.