Platanus - London Plane Trees
The trees in the platanus genus are native to the Northern Hemisphere and they are the only surviving members of the plant family Plantanaceae. The trees in this genus are characteristically tall and are best known for their highly ornamental bark. The bark of the trees peels and flakes to reveal colourful mottled patches underneath. The leaves of this genus are palmate and all species in the gen us are monoecious, so both male and female flowers are borne on the same plant.
The trees in this genus are commonly called plane trees, and the hybrid Platanus hispedia is known as the London plane tree because it is a common site by roadsides and in parks in London. Plane trees are not usually suited to such dry sites as they were traditionally found in wetland, but the London plane tree has been cultivated to withstand dry and urban conditions. In fact, the composition of the tree makes it perfectly suited to the pollution in London as the peeling bark sheds pollutants and therefore keeps the tree healthy. Plane trees are currently only used as ornamental trees and they do not have much use with woodwork, but the American plane variety is currently being trailed as biomass.