London Plane tree identification
The London Plane Platanus x hispanica is probably a hybrid, between the Oriental Plane and the American Sycamore, first created in Spain or southern France in about 1650. It was introduced to Britain in about 1680. It is now common in large gardens and parks and very common on city streets where it has proved resistant to pollution.
London Plane tree identification – large maple-like leaves, spherical fruits on ‘strings’ hanging all winter, yellow/brown patchy bark. The bark is unmistakeable, pale yellow/grey patches remain after large darker flakes fall off. The fruit is spherical and similar to the Oriental Plane but larger. It is sometimes given the scientific name of Platanus x acerifolia.
The underside of the leaf is covered in fine hairs. The 5 veins do not all branch from the same point at the base of the leaf like the Maples.
Trees are monoecious and wind pollinated, with separate male and female flowers on the same tree. In this photo in May green male flowers are shedding pollen. The female flowers are brown.
Close-up of the female flowers in May. Each sphere is made up of many individual flowers. Each female flower has 6 to 9 crimson stigmas and develops into a fruit called an achene.
The fruit hangs down like this all winter. The seeds are packed round the outside of the sphere and are dispersed in the spring or early summer. Photo taken in December. The fruit of the London Plane is a dense ball of achenes. Each achene consists of one seed with a style and hair attached. The styles stick out in this close-up photo. The hairs, which aid wind dispersal, are inside the ball.