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London Plane (Platanus x hispanica)
Platanus x hispanica
It is usually thought to be a hybrid of the Oriental Plane P. orientalis with the American Plane (American sycamore) P. occidentalis. Some authorities think that it may be a cultivar of P. orientalis, but there is little evidence for this.
It forms a very large growing, deciduous tree to about 40m tall. The leaves are large and maple-like. The flowers and fruit are borne in balls, growing to be about 3 cm across. The tree is often noted for its peeling bark, leaving a dappled trunk.
It is first recorded as occurring in Spain in the 17th century, where the Oriental Plane and the American Plane had been planted in proximity to one another. The leaf and flower characteristics are intermediate between the two parent species. The hybrid is fertile, and seedlings are occasionally found near mature trees.
It is very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction, and for this reason it is a popular urban roadside tree. It is now extensively cultivated in most temperate latitudes as an ornamental and parkland tree, and is the most common tree in many northern cities – not just London but New York City, Paris and many others. It has a greater degree of winter cold tolerance than the Oriental Plane, and is less susceptible to disease than the American Plane.
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