London Plane – a great winter tree!

London Plane Tree

On a blue-sky winter day like today, we will sometimes get questions from visitors about the funky tree near the street that has “dangling ornaments”. We know immediately they are referring to our London Plane (Platanus × acerifolia), a cross between the American Sycamore and the Oriental planetree.

Our London Plane was planted in 1995, so is still a young tree. It is beautiful in the summer months, with lovely large leaves that resemble maple leaves. (Fun fact: all sycamores, including London plane-trees have alternate branch and leaf arrangement, while all maples have opposite branching.)

But in the winter, when the leaves are gone, one can fully appreciate other features of the tree, including the lovely “dangling ornaments” as well as the great camouflage bark.

Nature's Ornament

The “dangling ornaments” are its fruits which are in aggregates of hundreds in a round ball about 2.5 cm (1″) across. Many remain on the tree into winter, but eventually fall to the ground and break apart.

The other really interesting feature is the bark, which exfoliates to reveal a colourful camouflage pattern. While this feature is present year round, it is often better appreciated in the winter.

London Plane Tree

Our London Plane is also graced with some climbing ivy, adding even more interest.

London Plane Tree

A little extra reading:

An interesting resource about the history of the London Plane is found in an article from, well, London of course! The Secret History of the London Plane Tree.

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Camouflage Bark

We often post photos of colourful blossoms and beautiful landscapes in the Historic Gardens. Today we wanted to change things up a bit. Some of our unsung heroes in the Gardens are also our largest residents – the trees. While they are magnificent, many of their features are overlooked by visitors as the colours of summer take the eye. In the winter one has more opportunity to look more closely at the trees, and notice some of the unique features.
 
These three photos show the “camouflage” bark that exists on some of our trees – shown are the Kousa Dogwood, Japanese Stewartia, and London Plane trees. Each have other cool features as well, but the mottled bark is worth a second look!
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DAY 29 – 29Jan2011 – Nature’s Tree Ornaments

Project 365 – Nature’s Tree Ornaments.

Day 29 dawned a beautiful day, with the recent storm’s snow still stuck to everything in sight. That made for very showy ‘seed balls’ on the London Plane Tree at the Gardens.

I think of these as Mother Nature’s Christmas Tree Ornaments – they hang perfectly from the tree most of the winter.

 

DAY 10 – 10Jan2011 – London Plane

DAY 10 – Project 365 – Mother Nature’s Christmas Tree!

As I look forward to taking down my Christmas Tree today (some things can’t be rushed), I am reminded of the London Plane Tree at the Historic Gardens with it’s dangling seed “balls”. They hang from the branches as if someone had decorated the tree with them… we think of them as Mother Nature’s tree ornaments. They should “hang around” throughout the winter…