Platanus /ˈplætənəs/[1] is a genus consisting of a small number of tree species native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are the sole living members of the family Platanaceae.

All members of Platanus are tall, reaching 30–50 m (98–164 ft) in height. All except for P. kerrii are deciduous, and most are found in riparian or other wetland habitats in the wild, though proving drought-tolerant in cultivation. The hybrid London plane (Platanus × acerifolia) has proved particularly tolerant of urban conditions, and has been widely planted in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

They are often known in English as planes or plane trees. Some North American species are called sycamores (especially Platanus occidentalis[2]), although the term sycamore also refers to the fig Ficus sycomorus, the plant originally so named, and to the sycamore maple Acer pseudoplatanus.[2] The genus name Platanus comes from Ancient Greek πλάτανος, which referred to Platanus orientalis.[3]

Plataan bladeren
Leaves and fruit of a London plane
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Platanaceae
Genus: Platanus

See text


Platane, Trsteno
Bole of an aged Platanus, in Trsteno, near Dubrovnik, Croatia
Plane tree fruit 20180707 092951
Ripe plane tree fruit

The flowers are reduced and are borne in balls (globose heads); 3–7 hairy sepals may be fused at the base, and the petals are 3–7 and are spatulate. Male and female flowers are separate, but borne 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 3–8 stamens; the female has a superior ovary with 3–7 carpels. Plane trees are wind-pollinated. Male flower-heads fall off after shedding their pollen.

After being pollinated, the female flowers become achenes that form an aggregate ball. The fruit is a multiple of achenes (plant systematics, Simpson M. G., 2006). 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 and alternate. 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 off or exfoliates easily in irregularly shaped patches, producing a mottled, scaly appearance. On old trunks, bark may not flake off, but thickens and cracks instead.


There are two subgenera, subgenus Castaneophyllum containing the anomalous P. kerrii, and subgenus Platanus, with all the others; recent studies in Mexico[4] 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.[5] 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 2033-year-old Platanus tree Chinar in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Fossil Platanus leaf

Fossil Platanus leaf from the Paleocene of Alberta, Canada.

Fossil Platanus Fruit 0444

Fossil Platanus fruit from the Paleocene of Alberta, Canada.


The following are recognized species of plane trees:

Botanic name Common names Distribution Flowerheads Notes
Platanus × acerifolia
(P. occidentalis × P. orientalis;
syn. P. × hispanica, P. × hybrida)
London plane, hybrid plane Cultivated origin 1–6 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus chiapensis Chiapas plane southeast Mexico ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus gentryi Gentry's plane western Mexico ? Subgenus Platanus
Platanus kerrii Kerr's plane Laos, Vietnam 10–12 Subgenus Castaneophyllum
Platanus mexicana Mexican sycamore, 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, Baja California 3–7 Subgenus Platanus
Platanus rzedowskii Rzedowski's plane eastern Mexico 1-2 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 most severe 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 platani, a wilt disease, has become a significant problem in recent years in much of Europe.[6] The North American species are mostly resistant to the disease, with which they probably coevolved, while the old world species are highly sensitive.

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.

In the 21st century a disease, commonly known as Massaria disease, has attacked plane trees across Europe. It is caused by the fungus Splanchnonema platani, and causes large lesions on the upper sides of branches.[7][8]


The principal use of these trees is as ornamental trees, especially in urban areas and by roadsides. The London plane is particularly popular for this purpose. The American plane is cultivated sometimes for timber and investigations have been made into its use as a biomass crop. The oriental plane is widely used as an ornamental and also has a number of minor medicinal uses.

Cultural history

Most significant aspects of cultural history apply to Platanus orientalis in the Old World. The tree is an important part of the literary scenery of Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. Because of Plato, the tree also played an important role in the scenery of Cicero's De Oratore.

The legendary Dry tree first recorded by Marco Polo was possibly a platanus. According to the legend, it marked the site of the battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III.

The German camouflage pattern Platanenmuster ("plane tree pattern"), designed in 1937–1942 by Johann Georg Otto Schick, was the first dotted camouflage pattern.[9]


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book 1995.
  2. ^ a b Merriam Webster.
  3. ^ πλάτανος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. ^ Nixon & Poole 2003.
  5. ^ Feng, Oh & Manos 2005.
  6. ^ Pathology note 7 2008.
  7. ^ "Massaria disease". Forestry Commission. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  8. ^ "Massaria disease of plane trees". Treetree. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  9. ^ Beaver, Michael D.; Borsarello, J. F. (1995). Camouflage Uniforms of the Waffen-SS. Schiffer. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-84176-854-0.


  • Naumann, Helmut (2007). "Die Platane von Gortyna". In Kämmerer., Thomas Richard (ed.). Studien zu Ritual und Sozialgeschichte im Alten [Orient / Studies on Ritual and Society in the Ancient Near East. Tartuer Symposien 1998–2004]. Berlin, de Gruyter. pp. 207–226.
  • Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607.
  • "Sycamore", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, retrieved 2009-08-04
  • "Pathology note 7" (PDF). The Research Agency of the Forestry Commission. 2008.

External links

Acer pseudoplatanus

Acer pseudoplatanus, known as the sycamore in the United Kingdom and the sycamore maple in the United States, is a flowering plant species in the soapberry and lychee family Sapindaceae. It is a large deciduous, broad-leaved tree, tolerant of wind and coastal exposure. It is native to Central Europe and Western Asia, from France eastwards to Ukraine, northern Turkey and the Caucasus and southwards in the mountains of northern Spain and Italy.

The sycamore establishes itself easily from seed and was introduced to the British Isles by 1500, and is now naturalised there and in other parts of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand where it may become an invasive species.The sycamore can grow to a height of about 35 m (115 ft) and the branches form a broad, rounded crown. The bark is grey, smooth when young and later flaking in irregular patches. The leaves grow on long leafstalks and are large and palmate, with 5 large radiating lobes. The flowers are greenish-yellow and hang in dangling flowerheads called panicles. They produce copious amounts of pollen and nectar that are attractive to insects. The winged seeds or samaras are borne in pairs and twirl to the ground when ripe. They germinate freely in the following spring.

In its native range, the sycamore is associated with a biodiverse range of invertebrates and fungi, but these are not always present in areas to which it has been introduced. It is sometimes planted in urban areas for its value as an amenity tree and produces a hard-wearing, creamy-white close-grained timber that is used for making musical instruments, furniture, joinery, wood flooring and kitchen utensils. It also makes good firewood. The rising sap in spring has been used to extract sugar and make alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and honey is made by bees collecting the nectar.

Buttonball Tree

The Buttonball Tree is an exceptionally large American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) located in Sunderland, Massachusetts.

Though the nickname "buttonball" has been used for all like trees, this tree retained the name, mainly because of its pure size and popularity. The tree is over 113' high, with a girth of 24'7" and a spread of 140'. It is a remnant of Sunderland's forests. Because of their longevity, during the 17th and 18th century sycamores were sometimes planted at the door of new houses for newlyweds as "bride and groom" trees. Though the age of the tree is unknown, it is estimated to be well over 350 years old, with many estimates saying that the tree is closer to 400. The tree is well known and is one of the larger tourist attractions of the town.

The tree is believed to be the largest tree of its kind on the East Coast, or as locals put it, "The widest tree this side of the Mississippi."


Charadrus or Charadros (Ancient Greek: Χάραδρος) was a town on the coast of ancient Cilicia, between Platanus and Cragus, according to the Stadiasmus. Strabo, who writes it Χαραδροῦς, describes it as a fort with a port below it, and a mountain Andriclus above it. It is described by Francis Beaufort "as an opening through the mountains with a small river." The mountain is mentioned in the Stadiasmus under the name Androcus.

Charadrus is located near modern Yakacık (formerly Kaledıran İskelesi), in Turkey.

List of Platanus diseases

This article is a list of diseases of trees in the genus Platanus (plane trees, also known in North America as sycamores).

Plant community

A plant community (sometimes "phytocoenosis" or "phytocenosis") is a collection or association of plant species within a designated geographical unit, which forms a relatively uniform patch, distinguishable from neighboring patches of different vegetation types. The components of each plant community are influenced by soil type, topography, climate and human disturbance. In many cases there are several soil types within a given phytocoenosis.

A plant community can be described floristically (the species it contains) and/or physiognomically (its physical structure). For example, a forest (a community of trees) includes the overstory, or upper tree layer of the canopy, as well as the understory, further subdivided into the shrub layer, herbaceous layer, and sometimes also moss layer. In some cases of complex forests there is also a well-defined lower tree layer. A plant community is similar in concept to a vegetation type, with the former having more of an emphasis on the ecological association of species within it, and the latter on overall appearance by which it is readily recognized by a layperson.A plant community can be rare even if none of the major species defining it are rare. This is because it is the association of species and relationship to their environment that may be rare. An example is the Sycamore Alluvial Woodland in California dominated by the California sycamore Platanus racemosa. The community is rare, being localized to a small area of California and existing nowhere else, yet the California sycamore is not a rare tree in California.


The Platanaceae are a family of flowering plants belonging to the order Proteales. This family has been recognized by almost all taxonomists, and is sometimes called the "plane-tree family". The family consists of only a single extant genus Platanus, with eight known species. The plants are tall trees, native to temperate and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The hybrid London plane is widely planted in cities worldwide.

The plane-tree is referenced in Pliny the Younger's letter to Domitius Apollinaris as part of his description of his Tuscan Villa located somewhere in Tuscany in the first century.

Platani, Cyprus

Platani (Greek: Πλατάνι; Turkish: Çınarlı "place with a platanus", previously Bladan) is a Turkish Cypriot village in the Famagusta District of Cyprus, located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north of Lefkoniko. Platani is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus. It is locally known for the nearby stalactite cave "Incirli Mağra". As of 2011, Platani had a population of 183.

Platanus (Cilicia)

Platanus or Platanous (Ancient Greek: Πλατανοῦς) was a town on the coast of Cilicia Aspera, west of Anemurium. The Stadiasmus Maris Magni places Platanus 350 stadia from Anemurium, which is most likely incorrect. William Smith posited a distance of 150 stadia.

Platanus is tentatively located near modern Melleç İskelesi, in Asiatic Turkey.

Platanus kerrii

Platanus kerrii is an evergreen tree, native to Southeast Asia. The leaves are elliptical to lanceolate. The fruits are borne in globose heads, each of which is sessile on a long peduncle. There are up to 12 heads on a peduncle.It differs from other species in the genus in being a tropical plant, evergreen, having unlobed leaves, and in the leaf stem not enclosing the axillary bud at its base. The bark flakes off as with other species, and the trunk of a mature tree appears similar to that of the other species.

It is sometimes placed in its own subgenus casteneophyllum, and it has been proposed that this species should be separated out into its own genus.The plant is named after A. F. G. Kerr, who collected the type specimen in Laos in 1932.

Platanus occidentalis

Platanus occidentalis, also known as American sycamore, American planetree, occidental plane, and buttonwood, is a species of Platanus native to the eastern and central United States, extreme southern Ontario and the mountains of northeastern Mexico. It is usually called sycamore in North America, a name which can refer to other types of tree in other parts of the world.

The species epithet occidentalis is Latin for "western", referring to the Western Hemisphere, because at the time when it was named by Carl Linnaeus, the only other species in the genus was P. orientalis ("eastern"), native to the Eastern Hemisphere.

Platanus orientalis

Platanus orientalis, the Old World sycamore, or Oriental plane, is a large, deciduous tree of the Platanaceae family, growing to 30 m (98 ft) or more, and known for its longevity and spreading crown.

Platanus racemosa

Platanus racemosa is a species of plane tree known by several common names, including California sycamore, western sycamore, California plane tree, and in North American Spanish aliso. Platanus racemosa is native to California and Baja California, where it grows in riparian areas, canyons, floodplains, at springs and seeps, and along streams and rivers in several types of habitats. It has been found as far north as Tehama and Humboldt counties.

Platanus wrightii

Platanus wrightii, the Arizona sycamore, also in Spanish Álamo, is a sycamore tree native to Arizona and New Mexico with its range extending south into the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa.The tree is a large deciduous tree, growing up to 82 ft (25 m).

Platanus × acerifolia

Platanus × acerifolia, the London plane, London planetree, or hybrid plane, is a tree in the genus Platanus. It is often known by the synonym Platanus × hispanica. It is usually thought to be a hybrid of Platanus orientalis (oriental plane) and Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore). Some authorities think that it may be a cultivar of P. orientalis.

Pé de Plátano

Pé de Plátano ("platanus tree") is a bairro in the District of Sede in the municipality of Santa Maria, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. It is located in east Santa Maria.


Rygmanoi was a town on the coast of ancient Cilicia, east of Anemurium at the mouth of the Orymagdos River.Platanus is tentatively located near the mouth of the modern Anamur Çay in Asiatic Turkey.


Sycamore is a name which has been applied to several types of trees, but with somewhat similar leaf forms. The name derives from the ancient Greek συκόμορος (sūkomoros) meaning "fig-mulberry".

Species of trees known as sycamore:

Acer pseudoplatanus, a species of maple native to central Europe and southwestern Asia

Ficus sycomorus, the sycamore (or sycomore) of the Bible; a species of fig, also called the sycamore fig or fig-mulberry, native to the Middle East and eastern Africa

Platanus orientalis, chinar tree (Old World sycamore)Some North American members of the genus Platanus, including

Platanus occidentalis, the American sycamore

Platanus racemosa, the California sycamore or western sycamore

Platanus wrightii, the Arizona sycamore

In Australia, there are numerous trees which have the common name "sycamore":

Litsea reticulata or Cryptocarya glaucescens (silver sycamore)

Polyscias elegans (white sycamore)

Cryptocarya obovata (white sycamore)

Ceratopetalum succirubrum (satin sycamore)

Cardwellia sublimia

Cryptocarya hypospodia (bastard sycamore)

Ceratopetalum virchowii (pink sycamore)

Ceratopetalum corymbosum (mountain sycamore)

Şıx Dursun

Şıx Dursun (Armenian: Սխտորաշեն, also Şıxtoraşen, Skhtorashen, Skhtorasher, and Suktorashen) is a village in the Khojavend Rayon of Azerbaijan.

Near village is located enormous tree - plane-tree (Platanus orientalis) named Tnjri. This tree has a circumference of 27 m and height of 54 m.


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