Plane tree
Platanus - family Platanaceae

Etymology: from the Greek " platanos ", from "Platus", large.
Origin: existing in Europe, in the Cretaceous, the plane tree disappears in glacial epoch. The American Planetree (rare in Europe) and the East Plane tree (planted by the Romans in Italy, at about year 390 before. J.C.) evolve differently (this is called speciation). They are introduced into England, by the gardener of the king, Tradescent (gardener father to son) and crossed by 1650, to give the common Plane tree or plane tree to maple leaves, most running in France.
Lifespan: 500 to... 2000 years, very rarely. The plane tree of Hippocrate, in Kos island, in Dodecanese, in Greece, is more than 2000 years old ; it measures 14 m of circumference, and is made up of several trunks with damaged wood.
Height: 45 metres tall.
Rate of Growth: fast.
Shape: broad crown.
Trunk: straight, reaching an impressive diameter on the elderly (fine example of old plane tree in the Parc Monceau in Paris).
Characteristic bark which cracks in scales ("rhytidomes"), clearing yellowish zones. The aspect of skin of snake of the bark is rather particular.
Deciduous foliage. Big leaves (20 cm) alternate (# maple), 3 or 7 lobes somewhat toothed. Ribs do not all go the same point. The young shoots are covered with brown hairs that remain for some time on the leaves mingling with hairy seeds that are released from the fruits of last year (in April). Leaves are big, tough, hardly putrescibles.
Flowers: unisexual, grouped in spherical heads pendulous at the end of a long peduncle.
Risk of allergenic pollen : medium (depends on regions: more extremely in the dry regions).
Fruits are small akenes encircled with a down which makes spread easier by the wind. They are grouped in bowls or glomerules.

Difference American Planetree Common plane tree East plane tree
Size 55 m in America 40 m 30 m
Leaves Few cut away, 3 - 5 lobes edged with teeth 5 big lobes 3 straight lobes, deep sinuses
Base   concave in V
Fruits 1 - 3 by right peduncle 1 - 4, right peduncle 1 - 6 peduncles in zigzag

Legends and traditions: In Greek mythology, the plane tree is a symbol of the regeneration (the bark regenerates, by flakes, as the skin of the snake). It served for constructing the Trojan horse.
Literature: a poem was devoted to it (Francis Ponge)
Uses: - Medicinal plant astringent (leaves, bark).
- wood heating (equivalent quality beech wood), carpentry, wheelwright, shipbuilding, butcher stalls and logs, instrument making, carpentry and woodworking (furniture and veneers), bushel, lathes, veneer for plywood. The wood is light, hard and firm. It resembles the wood of beech and more resistant than wood beech moisture, but is easily attacked by insects. The sapwood differs little from the heart.
- Planning: widely planted in alignment, in parks and schoolyards. It supports pruning (well done). It is the tree most common (40% of street trees in Paris). it is also the tallest tree in Paris (one reaches 45 m in height). A Plane is 7 meters in circumference (in the Parc Monceau, Paris). But it is outmoded and replaced in the South of France by the hackberry.

Advices of maintenance:
Plane trees do not require particular maintenance. On a young subject, it is possible to prune the lateral branches in order to reinforce the trunk and in let appear the bark. On elderly plants (that they seldom meet in individual's garden), it is possible to clarify branches, to reduce catch to the wind and to eliminate the dead branches which could fall on the passers-by. Wounds, so much at the level of the roots which of the trunk, heal relatively well.
Disease attacks the plane, accidentally imported from the United States during the last war (the soldiers carried boxes of a fungus, canker stain, or Ceratocystis Platani). The disease spreads from Provence (Allied landing at Cavalaire-sur-Wed August 15, 1944). Canker kills the tree very quickly, blocking irrigation canals branches. The crown and the tree withers withers. A pest, the tiger of the plane, can also weaken the crowns of trees during hot, dry summers. This insect feeds on sap from the leaves and causes them to fall early.


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