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Plant Profile: Old World Plane Tree (Platanus orientalis)

Native to riparian sites of southeastern Europe to western Asia, this long-lived deciduous tree is also known as oriental plane and is a member of the small Platanaceae family that also includes London plane tree and American sycamore.  The deep rooted tree may grow up to 120′ but is usually less than 90′ tall and has a spreading crown, horizonatal branching, and a single trunk with flaking, scaly,  gray-brown bark.  The palmate, maple-like  leaves have 5-7 distinct lobes and coarsely toothed margins, and may provide red, amber and yellow color in the fall.  Globose clusters of male and female greenish flowers appear in spring on the same tree and pollinated female flowers give way to 1 3/8″ wide balls of small, one-seeded fruits that ripen in the fall and persist into winter.  Old World plane tree is resistant to drought, pollution, and soil compaction so is valued as a shade tree.  The wood is used to build furniture, and various parts of the tree have been used medicinally and to make fabric dye.  The “Tree of Hippocrates” in Kos and the grove of trees in ancient Athens may have been plane trees.  The genus name, Platanus, is from the Greek ord πλάτος, meaning breadth,  referring to its wide-spreading branchesThe specific epithet, orientalis, means from the east, and refers to the origin of the species.

Type: Deciduous tree

Outstanding Feature: Spreading crown for shade

Form: Horizontal branching and spreading crown

Growth Rate: Rapid

Bloom: Globose clusters of small greenish male and female flowers on the same tree in spring

Size: 60-90′ H x 50-70′ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, consistantly moist to wet, neutral to alkaline; slightly drought tolerant when established.

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Litter consisting of twigs, leaves, and fruits can be a problem on lawns while damage to sidewalks and sewer lines may be caused by roots.

Pests and Diseases: Leaf tree cancer, anthracnose, leaf spot, powdery mildew, tree minor moth, borers, scale, Japanese beetles, caterpillars and mites

Propagation: Stratified seed, layering, hardwood cuttings

Outstanding Selections:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia