There are 3 London Plane trees in this area planted close together to the left of the
central path leading to Norfolk Street. They are probably c.12 years old.
The London Plane is a natural hybrid between the American Platanus occidentalis
and the Oriental Plane Platanus orientalis and was introduced into this country
some time around 1650. In London they now make up more than 50% of all planted
trees. London Planes live to a great age and one planted at the Bishop’s Palace in Ely
over 300 years ago still survives. The Americans and the Scots call their Plane tree
‘Sycamore’ and our Sycamore ‘Plane’, which leads to confusion in identifying these
trees and indeed the maple-like leaves are very similar to Sycamore leaves but the
base of a Plane leaf-stalk is slightly swollen, as it contains the lateral bud. Together
with the different fruit and bark, this helps to distinguish between the two.
Sycamores have winged seeds commonly referred to as ‘keys’, while the fruits of
plane trees look like brown hairy balls, which remain hanging on the tree until the
following spring. London Planes will tolerate compacted soil and are almost
completely pest and disease-free. They are also highly pollution-tolerant and for this
reason are commonly selected as street trees. The outer layer of dappled bark peels
off to reveal the fresh colours of new growth, at the same time shedding the old and
damaged areas.

Tree Trail Stop 12: London Plane