The London plane


The London plane has especially fine properties as a large-growing, shade-providing urban tree. It copes well with heat and cold, wet and dry, compaction of the soil and the pollutants generated by cities. Its shiny leaves are washed off by rain and its bark flakes off in small patches to expose new bark underneath. It was widely planted in London in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


The London plane, (Platanus x acerifolia), probably came into being in the mid-seventeenth century as a natural hybrid of the Oriental plane, (P. orientalis), and the Western plane, (P. occidentalis), rather than being cross-bred by horticulturists. It became popular as soon as it was available.


It is not known how old a London plane may become because none is known to have died of old age. The oldest trees of this species date from first plantings around 1660-80. The tallest London plane has achieved 48.5 metres in height; the tallest London planes in London have reached 30-35 metres. A short guide to the London plane is available  here (2.4 MB).