Tree of the week: Platanus x acerifolia – London Plane

It is believed that the London Plane tree has resulted from a cross between the Oriental plane tree (P. orientalis) and the American sycamore (P. occidentalis). The exact details of the tree’s origin have been lost over time, however, it was discovered that this hybrid could tolerate the smoke of London. As a result, it has been widely distributed to cities throughout the moderate climate regions of the world for nearly 400 years.

Platanus acerifolia is a fine shade tree for large gardens in cold climates. This grower has an attractive bark, large leaves and brings autumn colours to the garden. The tree provides a great canopy of shade in the summer months. It can grow up to over 40m tall. It is widely planted in urban areas of South Africa. The tree is tolerant to air pollution therefore ideal for roadside planting. It lives longer than many other shade trees in urban settings.

London Plane prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun to light shade. It can be easily transplanted. Given its size, care should be taken to plant a London plane in a space where it can fully express its beauty. This includes keeping it away from structures and providing ample rooting space and avoiding areas with underground utilities.