Why is the London plane tree so special?

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You might not know that the London plane tree is a species in itself. They are in fact called Platanus x acerifolia and are probably a cross between the oriental plane tree and the sycamore tree.

Now about half of London’s trees are plane trees. It was planted in large numbers in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution when, due to smog, many more trees could not survive. Now it’s a tree so widespread that we don’t even notice it.

In London these trees can reach a height of 35 meters, but if grown in the countryside they reach 45 meters.The beauty of this species of tree is that it is completely adapted to the London climate, it does not suffer from pollution or lack of space.

It has been known for at least a couple of centuries and no London plane trees are known to have died of old age, so no one can say how long they can live.

Take a look at the bark of the London plane tree for example, you can see that it is patchy, but if you get closer you will see that they are pieces of bark coming off. This is a way for the tree to eliminate smog, pollution and toxic substances that have settled there. And perhaps one of the reasons why it manages to live well in London.

A famous London Plane is in Brunswick Square

To see a great example of London’s plane tree, go to Brunswick Square in Bloomsbury / Camden. A tree probably planted at the time of Jane Austen, late 1700s or early 1800s. It is also particular because unlike other city trees it has not been continuously pruned and therefore has low branches. It has a different shape from that of other plane trees in London.

 

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