London plane

Platanus × hispanica

Native range

A naturally occurring hybrid between western and eastern planes which has been widely planted in cities in southern Britain.

Provenance choice

A number of cultivars are identified, but there is no knowledge about their relative merits in British forestry.

Site requirements

A light demanding species which reaches large sizes, is tolerant of pollution and which can be very long lived. It is cold hardy to -29°C but is sensitive to exposure, particularly cold drying winds. Best growth is found on soils of medium to rich nutrient status and fresh to wet soil moisture; however, it will grow on drier soils and is drought tolerant. It is not suited to very wet or alkaline soils. If used in forest plantations it needs early and regular thinning to provide adequate space for crown development.

Pests and pathogens

Commonly affected by anthracnose which mainly causes shoot and leaf killing but can be severe. However, there is increasing awareness of two fungal pathogens that are significant in Europe could potentially be very damaging to Platanus in the UK. One is canker stain (Ceratocystis plantani) which now occurs in several European countries and has caused serious mortality of Platanus. The other is Massaria disease (Splanchnonema platani) which attacks the bark and cambium on the branches of London Plane causing sudden branch breakage.

Use

The species is likely to benefit from climate warming and it may prove a useful forest tree on warmer sites in eastern lowland Britain.