Ajuntament de Barcelona

Platanus x hispanica

Joan Brossa Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    English name: 
    London plane
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Platanus × acerifolia, Platanus × hybrida
    Species characteristics
    Fresh and deep lands

    Deciduous tree 20-40 m tall, with straight trunk and wide rounded crown, 6-12 m wide. The thin smooth bark has greenish yellow flakes that come off and form a specially beautiful trunk.

    The leaves, 10-20 cm long, are simples and palmately lobed, with 3-5 uneven lobes. They have marked nervation and serrate margins. The upper side is bright, smooth upper side and medium green (ochre in autumn); the lower side is slightly pubescent and lighter green. The petiole, 5-8 cm long, gets wider at the base.

    The masculine flowers and the feminine ones appear on the same plant, but on different branches. The small reddish feminine ones appear into bunches of 2-5 flowers whereas the greenish purple masculine ones appear into groups up to 3 flowers into hanging cylindrical catkins (5-10 cm long). Both the feminine flowers and the masculine ones appear into groups of 2-3 compact hanging balls.

    The fruits are spherical greenish or brownish yellow achenes, which are surrounded at the base by dun hairs and which appear into pairs or trios.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    The London Planetree is one of the most common trees in parks and streets of the Mediterranean area, where it's very appreciated because of its shadow.

    Its wood, good as fuel, is used to make carpentry tools.

    The bark and leaves are astringent.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Platanus x hispanica, consists of the genus name Platanus, coming from the Greek πλατανοϛ, "plane tree", one "x" indicating that it is a hybrid and the Latin term hispanica, "Hispanic, from Hispania", in allusion to the origin of the exemplars which provided the material to make the first description of the species, in 1770.

    This species origin would be a hybridation between the P. orientalis (oriental plane) and the P. occidentalis (American sycamore), happened in the 17th c. in Spain.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996