Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Platanus orientalis L.|
The Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis L.) is a very large, widespreading, and long-lived deciduous tree in the Platanaceae family. It is native to Eurasia from the Balkans to Iran; although some accounts extend its native range from Iberia to the Himalaya. It is often called Platane or related names in Europe, and Chenar or related names in Iran and India.
Like other Plane trees, its leaves are borne alternately on the stem, deeply lobed, and palmate or maple-like. It usually has flaking bark, occasionally not flaking and becoming thick and rugged. Flowers and fruit are round and burr like, borne in clusters of between 2 and 6 on a stem. Considerable variation exists among trees in the wild, and this may be complicated by crossbreeding with planted London planes (Platanus x hispanica), the hybrid of P. orientalis with American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).
It is capable of being grown in most temperate latitudes, though it benefits greatly from warm summers.
Myth and lore
From earliest days, the Oriental plane (P. orientalis) has been an outstanding tree in Persian gardens, which are built around water and shade. There it is known as the chinar, the plane tree to which Xerxes is said to have written an ode, to the astonishment of the Greeks. The moment is recorded in Handel's opera Xerxes in the famous Largo.
It is reputed to be the tree under which Hippocrates taught medicine at Kos. Some medicinal properties are ascribed to its leaves. The timber, often called lacewood, is figured and valuable for indoor furniture.
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