London Plane Tree Camilla Crockart/ClimateWatcher

London Plane Tree

Platanus x acerifolious

Did You Know?

  • A cross between American Sycamore and Oriental Plane Tree, first occuring around the 1640s
  • 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
FactBox Image

Deciduous tree, growing to 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.

Fruits/Seeds

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.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

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)

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

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

  • Widely planted throughout Australia though not native here and can be found in many cities
  • Look in urban areas, parks, gardens and along roadsides
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) fruiting balls usually appear individually (not in pairs) and its leaf lobes are wider than they are long.

Oriental Plane Tree (Platanus orientalis) fruiting balls appear in groups of 3 – 5 and its leaf lobes are deeply incised and much longer than they are wide.