Platanus x hispanica Mill. ex Münchh.

London plane

Family: Platanaceae
54º 34.913N
5º 55.862W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

Previously known as Platanus x acerifolia, 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 hand side of the path leading from the Embankment gate towards the Bandstand.

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