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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leaves and fruit of a London Plane
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Platanaceae
Genus: Platanus

See text

Platanus (pronounced /ˈplætənəs/)[1] is a small genus of trees native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are the sole living members of the family Platanaceae.

They are all large trees to 30–50 m tall. All are deciduous, except for P. kerrii, and are mostly found in riparian or other wetland habitats in the wild, though proving drought-tolerant in cultivation. The hybrid London Plane has proved particularly tolerant of urban conditions.

They are known as planes or plane trees. Some are sometimes called sycamores (especially the North American Platanus occidentalis[2]), although that term also refers to either the fig Ficus sycomorus, the plant originally so named, or the Great, or Sycamore Maple, Acer pseudoplatanus.[2]



Bole of an aged Platanus, in Trsteno, near Dubrovnik, Croatia

The flowers are reduced and are borne in balls (globose head); 3–7 hairy sepals may be fused at base, and the petals are 3–7 (or no) and spathulate. Male and female flowers are separate, but on the same plant (monoecious). The number of heads in one cluster (inflorescence) is indicative of the species (see table below). The male flower has with 3–8 stamens; the female has a superior ovary with 3–7 carpels. Plane trees are wind-pollinated. Male flower-heads fall off the branch after shedding their pollen.

After being pollinated, the female flowers become achenes that form an aggregate ball. Typically, the core of the ball is 1 cm in diameter and is covered with a net of mesh 1 mm, which can be peeled off. The ball is 2.5–4 cm in diameter and contains several hundred achenes, each of which has a single seed and is conical, with the point attached downward to the net at the surface of the ball. There is also a tuft of many thin stiff yellow-green bristle fibers attached to the base of each achene. These bristles help in wind dispersion of the fruits as in the dandelion.

The leaves are simple. In the subgenus Platanus they have a palmate outline. The base of the leaf stalk (petiole) is enlarged and completely wraps around the young stem bud in its axil. The axillary bud is exposed only after the leaf falls off.

The mature bark peels (exfoliates) off easily in irregularly shaped patches, producing a mottled, scaly appearance. Very old bark may not flake off, but can crack instead.


Old platanus in front of the Prince Miloš's Residence in Belgrade, Serbia.
Avenue of plane trees
Platanus dating from 1797, Bayeux,
Normandie, France
France's largest plane tree, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Platanus trees in South America.

There are two subgenera, subgenus Castaneophyllum containing the anomalous P. kerrii, and subgenus Platanus, with all the others; recent studies in Mexico[3] have increased the number of accepted species in this subgenus. Within subgenus Platanus, genetic evidence suggests that P. racemosa is more closely related to P. orientalis than it is to the other North American species.[4] There are fossil records of plane trees as early as 115 million years (the Lower Cretaceous). Despite the geographic separation between North America and Old World, species from these continents will cross readily resulting in fertile hybrids such as the London Plane.


The following are recognized species of plane trees:

Scientific name Common name Distribution flowerheads Notes
Platanus chiapensis Chiapas Plane southeast Mexico  ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus gentryi Gentry's Plane western Mexico  ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus × hispanica
(P. occidentalis × P. orientalis;
syn. P. × acerifolia, P. × hybrida)
London Plane, Hybrid Plane Cultivated origin 1-6 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus kerrii Kerr's Plane Laos, Vietnam 10-12 Subgenus Castaneophyllum
Platanus mexicana Mexican Plane northeast and central Mexico 2-4 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus oaxacana Oaxaca Plane southern Mexico  ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus occidentalis American Sycamore, American Plane, Buttonwood, Occidental Plane eastern North America 1-2 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus orientalis Oriental Plane southeast Europe, southwest Asia 3-6 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus racemosa California Sycamore, Western Sycamore, Aliso California 3-7 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus rzedowskii Rzedowski's Plane eastern Mexico  ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus wrightii Arizona Sycamore Arizona, New Mexico, northwest Mexico 2-4 Subgenus Platanus


Planes are susceptible to Plane Anthracnose (Apiognomonia veneta), a fungal disease that can defoliate the trees in some years. The worst infections are associated with cold, wet spring weather. P. occidentalis and the other American species are the most susceptible, with P. orientalis the most resistant. The hybrid London Plane is intermediate in resistance.

Ceratocystis fimbriata f. platani, a wilt disease, has become a significant problem in recent years in southern Europe [1].

Other diseases such as powdery mildew occur frequently, but are of lesser importance. Platanus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Phyllonorycter platani and Setaceous Hebrew Character.

Cultural history

Most significant aspects of cultural history apply to Platanus orientalis in the Old World.


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ a b "sycamore", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary,, retrieved 2009-08-04 
  3. ^ Nixon & Poole 2003
  4. ^ Feng et al. 2005


  • Feng, Y.; Oh, S.-H., & Manos, P. S. (2005). Phylogeny and Historical Biogeography of the Genus Platanus as Inferred From Nuclear and Chloroplast DNA. Syst. Bot. 30 (4): 786-799 abstract
  • Nixon, K. C. & Poole, J. M. (2003). Revision of the Mexican and Guatemalan species of Platanus (Platanaceae). Lundellia 6: 103-137 abstract.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a taxonomic genus, within family Platanaceae - the plane tree
Wikispecies has information on:



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Ordo: Unassigned Eudicots
Ordo: Proteales
Familia: Platanaceae
Genus: Platanus
Species: P. chiapensis - †P. condonii - †P. exaspera - P. gentryi - P. × hispanica - P. kerrii - P. mexicana - P. oaxacana - P. occidentalis - P. orientalis - P. racemosa - P. rzedowskii - P. wrightii


Platanus Linnaeus


  • Meyer Herbert W. & Manchester Steven R. (1997) "The Oligocene Bridge Creek flora of the John Day Formation, Oregon." University of California Publications in the Geological Sciences 141: 1-195

Vernacular name

Deutsch: Platanen
English: Plane tree, Sycamore (US)
日本語: スズカケノキ属
Türkçe: Çınar

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