Platanus orientalis
Common Name: oriental plane tree
Type: Tree
Family: Platanaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Europe to Asia Minor
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 60.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. It is not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area. Tolerates light shade. Prefers rich, humusy, consistently moist soils. Tolerates dryish soils once established. Generally tolerant of most urban pollutants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Platanus orientalis, commonly called Oriental plane tree or oriental sycamore, is a deciduous, usually single-trunk tree with distinctive, flaky, brown-gray-cream bark, large maple-like leaves and spherical fruiting balls that persist into winter. The creamy bark on mature trees facilitates identification from great distances. It is generally regarded to be the most massive shade tree indigenous to the area of its native range extending from southeastern Europe into western Asia. It is rarely planted in the U.S., but is one of the parents of the London plane tree (P. orientalis x P. occidentalis). It is somewhat variable in characteristics, and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from London plane. It also may hybridize with London plane without human intervention, thus creating further variation. It typically grows to 60-80' (less frequently to 120’) tall with horizontal branching and a rounded habit. Large, dark green leaves (4-10” wide) with 5-7 palmate lobes have coarse marginal teeth. In fall, foliage typically turns an undistinguished yellow-brown. Small, non-showy, monoecious flowers appear in small rounded clusters in April. Female flowers give way to bristly, long-stalked, spherical fruiting balls (to 1 3/8” diameter) that ripen to brown in October and persist into early winter. Fruiting balls typically appear in groups of 3-6. Each fruiting ball consists of numerous, densely-packed, tiny seed-like fruits (achenes). Fruiting balls gradually disintegrate as fall progresses, disbursing their seeds, often in downy tufts, with the wind. Wood has been commercially used for a variety of products including furniture, cabinets, barrels, crates and butcher blocks.

Genus name comes from the Greek word, platanos, for the oriental plane tree (P. orientalis).

Specific epithet means of the Orient.

Problems

Anthracnose is a significant disease that can severely damage the foliage and twigs, often precipitating premature leaf drop. Oriental plane tree is less susceptible to anthracnose than American sycamore (P. occidentalis). Canker, leaf spot and powdery mildew may also occur. Insect visitors include borers, scale, Japanese beetles, caterpillars and mites. When grown as a lawn tree, litter from twigs, large leaves, bark and fruiting balls can pose significant clean-up problems. Roots of mature trees can buckle sidewalks and interfere with sewer lines.

Garden Uses

A large tree for a large space. Generally considered too large and too messy for street tree use.