An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 85 Leaves and fruit
  2. 085_london_plane_tree_-_by_steve_maskell_flowers Flowers by Steve Maskell
  3. 196_rbg_london_plane_tree__3_-cropped Ripening fruit appears in pairs (2.5 cm in diameter)

London Plane Tree

Platanus x acerifolious


  • It is a deciduous tree.
  • Size: 15 – 30 m high, and 15 – 20 m wide. Some of its grey-brown bark peels off to reveal a creamy white inner bark, giving the trunk a mottled appearance.
  • Leaves: mid-to-dark green with 3 – 5 lobes and slightly serrated edges. They are 10 – 25 cm across and turn yellow-brown in autumn. The leaf lobes are about as wide as they are long.
  • Flowers: red or yellow, in small rounded clusters. The red (female) flowers grow from the newer shoots and the yellow (male) flowers grow from older branches further back toward the trunk. 
  • Fruit/seed: a ‘fuzzy’ rounded ball that grows on the end of a long stalk. It is 2.5 cm in diameter and contains many tiny seed-like fruits known as ashenes. The fruiting balls appear in pairs and turn from green to brown when ripe. 

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower
  • Full flowering (record all days)
  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)
  • First fully open leaf
  • Leaves open (record all days)
  • First leaf to change colour
  • Leaves changing colour (record all days)
  • First leaf to drop this year
  • 50% or more of leaves dropped (record all days)
  • No leaves (record all days)
  • Fruit fully ripened / turned brown (record all days)

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect plants to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

  • Most of the year!
  • Leaves and flowers appear in early spring.
  • Fruiting balls appear after flowering (in autumn) and ripen from late autumn.
  • Leaves change colour in autumn before falling in winter. 

Where To Look

  • It is not native to Australia but has been planted in urban areas, in parks, gardens and along roadsides.
  • It is widely planted throughout Australia and can be found in many cities.

London Plane Tree Occurrence Map ALA



Australian Biological Resources Study 2007. Flora of Australia Volume 2. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.

Bean WJ 1976. Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles 8th ed., volume 3, revised. John Murray, London.


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    • American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis): its fruiting balls usually appear individually (not in pairs) and its leaf lobes are wider than they are long.
    • Oriental Plane Tree or Oriental Plane (Platanus orientalis): its fruiting balls appear in groups of 3 – 5 and its leaf lobes are deeply incised and much longer than they are wide.   
  1. Did You Know?

    The London Plane Tree is a cross between the American Sycamore and the Oriental Plane Tree. The first cross may have occurred as early as the 1640s.

    It appears to be very tolerant of urban pollution, reflected heat, pavement over its roots, wind and heavy pruning, and is widely planted in many cities around the world because of this.