London Plane
(Platanus x hispanica)
Simple
Lobed
Alternate

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

male & female flowers
Male & female flowers

distribution map

The leaves are alternate, 3-5 lobed, almost hairless and 12-25 cm long. Each lobe is coarsely toothed and strongly veined. The leaf-stalks are 3-10 cm long.

ID check

London Plane is a large, deciduous tree with a rounded outline up to 35 m high and an unmistakeable smooth bark, which peels off in large flakes leaving creamy patches. It is planted for its summer shade and found mainly in town parks and gardens.

The male and female flowers are in separate clusters on the same trees (monoecious).

Red female flowers grow in 2 or 3 many-flowered clusters at the tip of shoots, while male flowers are yellow, in smaller clusters, back down the shoot.

The spherical fruits, about 2.5 cm across, remain on the tree through the winter.

Facts

  • London Plane arose as a hybrid between American Plane and Oriental Plane, being first described in 1670, from a specimen in Oxford Botanic Garden.

  • The wood is hard and fine-grained and is sold under the name of 'Lacewood', reflecting the delicate pattern of the grain.

  • Shiny leaves, easily washed clean by rain, prevent this Plane from being stifled by city soot, hence the urban planting

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