plane tree

Above: the plane tree
is possibly even more
impressive in the winter
without leaves

Centre: one in St
James' Square.

Planes at Trinity Square
The mausoleum like building behind is the former Port Authority of London building.

Trinity square plane tree

Trees of London
The Tower of London

London Plane

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              It makes sense to start with the London Plane, because it is the most frequently seen tree in London and London is flooded with them. If you walk along any street and pick out the most impressive tree you see, the odds are that it will be a London plane. If you wish to verify this fact, look for other trees of the same type; look at their leaves; look at their bark; look at their nuts. If you see several and it is the most frequently seen tree, then it is almost certainly a London plane. The London plane can be found in Finsbury Square, in Tavistock Square, outside Euston, along Kingsway, Berkley Square, everywhere.

              It is as common in Paris as it is in London, in fact it is more common. Not that they call them London planes over there. The French just call them planes, or platane, which is the French name for them; platinus hispanica is their scientific name. They give Paris its character. Those tree-lined boulevards are what make Paris in many people's estimation, and the trees are London planes, or platane. Istanbul, a city of similar status, the other side of Europe, is also rich with planes, although on this occasion it is the oriental plane which dominates. The London plane is a hybrid between the Oriental plane and the American plane.

              Now take a look at the trees beside you. Observe that they have round spiky nuts dangling down from their branches, usually in pairs. Observe the bark which seems to be multishaded. In fact, if you look closely you will see that this is caused by its flakiness. This phenomenon is in fact what makes the London plane so adept for London, because this process of shedding its bark protects the tree from pollution. These qualities, you will see all year around.

previous page      next tree: London plane part 2

Other Trees at Tower Hill

black poplar      Norway maple     acacia

sycamore     rowan      bird cherry

ginkgo     honey locust

Tower of London

Tree Identification

platanus hispanica

Leaf: vary in size depending on the size of the tree; maple shaped with pointed angles; alternate. click on Canadian flag to see leaf. plane leaf
plane nut

round spikey, not unlike chestnusts; on the the tree all year round.

plane flower

the individual flowers are not conspicuous, but the clusters appear as a ball with the spring leaves. They are not unlike the nuts, but smaller.

plane bark bark:
various shades of grey; flaky.
grows to about 35 metres
Sometimes powerful branches; has a wide crown.
general: by far the most common tree in London; they are in most of the squares and line most of the streets.

Of the row of trees along the river,
everyone is a London plane,
except for the one furthest away from
Tower Bridge.

In Trinity Square, circled, the large trees
are London planes, the smaller ones are
oriental planes.

click below for locations of:
other plane tree
specimens in London

Trees of London        A James Wilkinson Publication ©