London Plane Tree: Leaves, Bark, Flowers (Pictures) – Identification Guide

A deciduous tree native to Europe and Asia, the London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia) The London plane tree’s unique form, with a wide trunk and a large crown of branches, is the easiest way to identify it. The London plane has multiple pointed lobes and dark green leaves that look like maple leaves. The blossoms emerge in the spring, and little green prickly fruits turn into thick clusters of seeds.

One of the most well-known trees in the United Kingdom is a London plane tree. In fact, hybrid trees thrive in cities. It’s a common street tree in major cities around the United States. Planting trees in huge metropolitan regions, like the urban tree, helps to filter air pollutants.

The London plane tree (also spelled planetree) is identified in this article. This sycamore-like tree can be identified in an urban environment by descriptions and photographs. You may also learn how to cultivate this hardy plane tree in your yard if you want a magnificent shade tree.

Facts About London Planetree (Platanus × acerifolia)

The London plane tree is a cross between the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis) species, grown in London. With a massive, rounded crown up to 75 feet (22 meters) wide, the big tree grows between 66 and 100 feet (20–30 meters) tall.

Platanus x hispanica was the scientific name for the London plane tree. Hybridization is thought to have occurred in Spain, therefore. The tree’s new scientific name alludes to the maple (acer) form of its leaves. The maple-leaved plane tree is a common name for this plant.

A regular sycamore tree grows in London. Little drooping clusters of round blooms bloom in the spring, and the palmately lobed leaves resemble sycamore or maple leaves. In dense urban settings, on the other hand, ordinary sycamore trees are seldom planted. As the tree grows, planetrees take on a distinctive pyramidal shape that eventually turns into an oval form. If you have room in your front or backyard, the tree’s thick leafy foliage, spreading canopy, and height make it a fantastic shade tree.

The growth habits of a London plane tree make it particularly suited to urban settings. The London planetree, in particular, is fast-growing and averages 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters) each year. Second, in just a few years, the tree will be huge due to its fast development.

The lifespan of London planetrees is very long. Even in an urban environment, it is believed that the Platanus acerifolia may live hundreds of years. The tree’s longevity may be attributed to the fact that it removes harmful chemicals and parasites from its outer bark by shedding its grayish-brown bark.

London Plane Tree Leaves

The attractive light to dark green leaves with three to five pointed lobes on a London plane tree are recognized as such. A planetree leaf resembles a maple leaf or a sycamore tree leaf in appearance. The leaves are 7 inch (17 cm) long and up to 10 inch (25 cm) broad, with serrated margins.

By examining the leaves of a London plane tree, there are a few more methods to identify it. First and foremost, the leaf base is usually straight. The lobes’ serrated leaf margins also give them a jagged appearance, as well. Finally, the deciduous leaves turn a magnificent copper-brown color in the autumn.

London Plane Tree Bark  

The bark of a London plane tree stands out against the background in a setting, making it instantly identifiable. When a London plane tree’s bark exfoliates, it produces white, brown, and creamy yellow hues that give it a distinctive gray mottled look. A London plane tree is easily distinguished from a distance due to its distinctive camouflage pattern.

Because of the planetree’s fast development, its bark has shed. Large flakes of bark fall off every year because the thin bark does not expand as quickly as the tree. The health of the tree is aided by this characteristic growth pattern. The tree gets rid of pests, harmful parasites, and pollutants when it sheds its brownish-gray bark.


London Plane Tree Flowers

Early spring flowers on a London plane tree. Little red or greenish-yellow blossom ball-shaped catkins hang in clusters of two or three, forming dangling balls. Each spherical blooming head is roughly 1″ (2.5 cm) in diameter. The catkins are 1.6 to 3.2 inches (4 to 8 cm) long. Male and female flowers develop on the same tree, which is how a London plane tree is classified as a monoecious tree. The male flowers are greenish-yellow and the female planetree blossoms are brilliant red fuzzy balls.

London Plane Tree Fruit

Brown seed balls dangle in clusters from the London plane tree throughout the winter until spring, and it is a fruit. In the winter, a planetree’s spiky fruits group together to form a thick cluster of achenes with a fuzzy look. The downy tufts are dispersed by the wind, which blows them over long distances.

London Plane Tree Identification

The bark and leaf shape of a London plane tree are distinctive, which makes it easy to identify. The planetree’s bark is mottled and has a camouflage-style pattern of gray, white, yellow, and brown. A London plane tree’s distinguishing characteristic is large maple-like leaves with pointed edges.

London Planetree vs. Sycamore

The bark, leaves, and flowers of a London plane tree and a sycamore tree may be distinguished. On the London plane tree bark, the mottling starts at the root. Sycamore bark, on the other hand, only loosens higher up on the tree, near the crown.

Moreover, unlike a sycamore tree, the exfoliated bark of planetrees reveals yellow inner bark rather than white. In comparison to a sycamore tree, London plane tree leaves have more pronounced jagged lobes. The center lobe of London plane trees is more extended than wide, as seen in photographs of sycamore leaves and planetree leaves. On the other hand, a sycamore leaf’s central lobe is quite stubby.

The London plane leaf (left) and the The flowers on London plane trees grow in clusters of two and three, but rarely one. Sycamore leaf (right) Sycamore ball-shaped blooms and spiky fruits, on the other hand, do not bloom in clusters. Individual fruits develop solitary instead of being produced in groups.

The seed head of a London plane (left) Right, the sycamore seed head

London Plane Tree Cultivars

To be more resistant to illness and tolerant in urban settings, several London plane cultivars have been created. In addition, variegated leaves are attractive on several planetree cultivars. London plane trees come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’ — Anthracnose fungus diseases are resistant to this planetree variety. The tree is drought tolerant, has poor soils, and accepts urban pollution. It grows to be 60 feet (18 meters) tall.

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Columbia’ — The dark green, deeply lobed leaves of this London plane tree variety are its most appealing feature. Anthracnose resistance is also superb in this variety.

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Liberty’ — The planetree is a fast-growing, hardy tree that thrives in mildew, drought, and heat. It has a pyramidal crown that tolerates all of them.

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Suttneri’ — With variegated maple-like leaves with creamy-white variegation, this is a lovely cultivar of Lonon plane tree.

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Alphen’s Globe’ — Green leaves turn yellow in the fall on this dwarf London plane tree. Since it only grows to be 13 to 16 feet (4 – 5 meters) tall, this planetree is perfect for small gardens.

How to Plant London Plane Tree

You should pick a spot with full sun or partial shade when selecting where to plant a London plane tree. In addition, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough room for the 70-foot-wide canopy. This implies that it should be at least 30 feet (10 meters) distant from structures.

Dig a hole as deep and wide as the root ball of a London plane tree to plant it. Fill the hole with soil mixed with compost before placing the tree in it. Every day until the roots emerge, water the tree. Water the planetree sufficiently to keep the ground moist but not soggy once it has established.

How to Grow London Plane Tree

Plant a London plane tree in rich, moist soil and ensure that it gets plenty of sunlight. Water it more frequently during warm sunny periods. Only apply fertilizer to plants growing in nutrient-depleted soils. To keep its form and height, prune it in the winter. A London plane tree is the perfect choice if you want a fast-growing tree with gorgeous leaves. It’s a fast-growing shade tree that thrives in hot conditions.

Where to Grow London Plane Tree

The sun is best for a London plane tree, which gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. While the hardy tree can withstand some shade, it will slow down its development if it receives less than four hours of sunlight. Powdery mildew may also be a result of too much shade.

The variety of soils that a London plane tree can grow in. Yet, it flourishes best in rich, thoroughly draining soil. In sandy, loamy, clay, or compacted soil, you can also grow a London plane tree. It also works in soils of various pH levels, regardless of whether they’re alkaline or acidic. Most USDA zones 5 through 9 are suitable for London plane trees. Hot summers and harsh winters will not affect the planetree.

How to Water London Plane Tree

A London plane tree is drought tolerant, but it has medium to high water needs. The land should never be completely dry. As a result, you’ll need to water the planetree on a regular basis, particularly when it’s hot. The soil around the root region may be kept moist by adding mulch.

Always water the entire root system of a London plane tree when watering it. Nonetheless, watering too closely to the trunk may promote illness, so avoid it. Rather, flood the root zone and extend beyond the canopy line. In most situations, keeping your London plane tree alive requires twice-monthly deep watering. To a depth of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm), the ground should be wet.

Fertilizing London Plane Tree

Fertilization is twice yearly for a London plane tree, in the early spring and autumn. To increase the soil’s nutrient content, apply a balanced tree fertilizer. You should follow the guidelines, depending on the soil quality and size of the tree. Fertilization isn’t always necessary because London plane trees adapt to a variety of soil conditions.

However, if the tree shows significant leaf drop and you don’t know what kind of fertilizer to use, testing the soil is recommended.

How to Prune London Plane Tree

A London plane tree’s regular trimming helps to keep it upright and create a lovely form. Cutting back a planetree to remove dead, rotting, or sick branches is obviously required. Late in the autumn or early in the winter is when most pruning takes place. London plane trees are often pruned in a pollarding technique to limit their growth.

Pollarding produces short, stumpy branches by cutting down the main stem. Cut back branches at the end of the season just above old growth to achieve this result. It’s worth noting that plane trees in London respond positively to pruning at any time of year.

How to Propagate London Plane Tree

The most effective way to grow a London plane tree is through stem cuttings. Take cuttings from the current season’s growth just after the leaves fall, about ten inches (25 cm) long. On the stem, look for growing eyes or leaf buds. Next, remove some of the bark from the freshly cut end.

Place the London plane tree cuttings in a suitable pot filled with moist, well-draining potting soil to root them. After that, you may put the cuttings in the soil where you want the tree to develop. By the time spring arrives, the cuttings should have rooted. London plane trees may be grown from seed as well. Seed germination, on the other hand, is not always effective, and a huge planetree will take longer to develop.

Pests Affecting London Plane Tree Growth

Sycamore lace bugs, aphids, Japanese beetles, and scale insects are all common pests that affect London plane trees. Leaves may be damaged by these bothersome pests and insects, but the tree’s health is rarely harmed. On London plane trees, there are a couple of ways to detect pest issues:

Sycamore lace bugs (Corythucha ciliata): The underside of planetree leaves is where these little white sap-sucking bugs feast. Bleached leaves or foliage with stippled patterning are among the symptoms of these pests.

Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica): Leaves and skeletonize leaves, giving them a lacelike appearance, are consumed by these iridescent green and brown beetles. The tree may seem to have been scorched by fire if there is a severe Japanese beetle problem.

Sycamore scale insects (Stomacoccus platani): Platanus trees are particularly vulnerable to these insect pests. Brown spots develop on infested leaves, which appear distorted. The leaves eventually die as they turn brown.

Cabbage pests like caterpillars, aphids, mites, and whiteflies are all common garden pests that may harm the plants. Around the London plane tree, you may observe a lot of ants if you have a serious aphid problem.

Diseases Affecting London Plane Tree Growth

The common fungal disease symamore anthracnose affects London plane trees. Anthracnose on the left-hand side. Left: Severe infection of Sycamore anthracnose causes leaves to fall. Leaf spots and brown blotches may appear on the leaves as a result of this condition.

Leaves may drop before their time in the spring if the infection is severe. Mature leaves can also be affected by brown leaf spots. Unfortunately, anthracnose may severely damage a tree, making it vulnerable to other diseases and insect infestations.

Watering the tree adequately is the best way to prevent sycamore anthracnose. Irrigate the ground where the roots extend, rather than watering leaves, for example. Anthracnose may also be caused by overfertilization. Pruning diseased branches to improve air circulation is another technique to avoid fungal tree foliage diseases.

Leaf disease can be exacerbated by cool, wet conditions. Instead, you can choose from varieties of London plane trees that are resistant to anthracnose.

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