Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens is compiled by members of the Friends group and Gardens staff. We aim to build up to a comprehensive archive of trees in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Each article illustrates a tree growing in Belfast Botanic Gardens together with information from a range of sources. Where possible we will give the tree tag number - these are the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Platanus x acerifolia
London plane

Tag 651
54 deg 34.913N
5 deg 55.862W

The plane tree is quite common as a city street tree in Belfast. The hybrid London plane is more commonly grown than either of its supposed parents; the oriental plane (Platanus orientalis) and the American plane (Platanus occidentalis). The plane is one of the most pollution-tolerant trees - hence its success in London. The most distinctive features of the tree are the mottled flaking bark and the hairy, spherical fruit. The leaves are similar to the sycamore but are never attacked by the black-spot fungus that affects the latter. The male and female flowers are produced in separate clusters on the same tree. Allowed to grow without pruning the London plane will reach 40m in height. City street trees need frequent pruning to keep them in check. In France the planes are often pollarded or pruned back to stumps in the winter as shown below. A good example of a London plane in Belfast Botanic gardens is on the right of the path from the Embankment gate towards the Bandstand.

Platanus x acerifolia in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Platanus x acerifolia leaf

Large London plane in Belfast Botanic Gardens Leaf of London plane

Platanus x acerifolia female flower

Platanus x acerifolia male flowers

Female flowers of London plane Male flowers of London plane

Platanus x acerifolia bark

Platanus sp. pollarded trees in France

Bark of London plane Severe winter pruning of plane trees typically seen in France

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2010. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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