Platanus x hispanica Münchh.

London plane, maple-leaved plane
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Platanus x hispanica
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Platanus x hispanica: Appearance of a group of planes in autumn

Appearance of a group of planes in autumnBranch with palmately lobed leaves with 3-5 irregularly dentate lobes; the axillary buds are hidden by the swollen petiole baseBranch with male (right) and female (left) globose inflorescencesTwo hanging globose infructescences of club-shaped achenesLeaves with damage caused by <span class=cursiva>Corythucha ciliata</span>, the sycamore lace bugDetailed view of the abaxial side of a leaf with adult specimens and eggs of <span class=cursiva>Corythucha ciliata</span> (sycamore lace bug)

Platanus: Ancient Latin name for plane tree, derived from "plátanos" (Gr.) = broad or flat

hispanicus, -a, -um: from Spain, in allusion to the hypothetical origin of the specimens used to describe the species


Habit: Deciduous, monoecious tree up to 35 m tall with a broad ovate or rounded crown and a stout trunk, with characteristic grayish or greenish bark that flakes off in irregular thin plates, exposing yellowish areas.

Leaves: alternate, deciduous, simple, with deciduous stipules and a long long petiole with a broadened, hollow base (concealing the axillary bud); blade 12-30 cm long, with a broadly ovate to suborbicular outline, palmately lobed to palmitifid, with 3-5 triangular-ovate lobes irregularly dentate-lobed; young leaves are covered with minute stellate felt-like hairs that come off easily.

Flowers: unisexual, small, not showy, in globose inflorescences arranged in groups of 1-3 on a pendulous stem with free scale-like, spatulate sepals and free membranaceous petals longer than the sepals; male flowers with 3-8 stamens with a short or subnull filament; female flowers hypogynous, generally apetalous, with 6-9 free carpels forming two pistils, each with a tuft of hairs at its base and crowned by a large style.

Fruit: clavate achene with a basal tuft of hairs and a persistent style, clustered in spherical hanging infructescences 2.5-3 cm in diam.


It flowers at the beginning of spring; fruits mature at the end of the summer or in autumn.

Geographic origin

Its origin is somewhat uncertain. Some authors consider it to be a hybrid between P. orientalis L. (native to the E Mediterranean) and P. occidentalis L. (native to E North America) that originated through unknown mechanisms in European gardens; other specialists consider it is just a variety of P. orientalis similar to the forms that grow in certain parts of Turkey.


The epithet acerifolia reflects the similarity between its leaves and those of some maple trees (genus Acer) such as A. platanoides L. or A. pseudoplatanus L., whose epithets in turn refer to the plane tree. Among other differences, the leaves of maples are opposite whereas those of plane trees are alternate.

It is widely cultivated in parks and public areas in most of the temperate world.

Most of the individuals growing on this campus are attacked by Corythucha ciliata Say (the sycamore lace bug), a heteropteran of the family Tingidae. This small insect from the United States was detected in Spain at the end of the 1970s. Its presence is shown by the appearance of a diffuse chlorotic area on the leaves that starts at the base of the leaf blade and extends towards the margins (see Picture Gallery). Very serious attacks can cause early leaf loss. Many of the individuals of the Avenida Complutense have plane anthracnose, a disease caused by the ascomycete fungus Apiognomonia veneta (Sacc. & Speg.) Höhn. = Sporonema platani Bäumler. The presence of this fungus causes abnormal branching, with the same point bearing numerous shoots. The pollen of this species and that of the Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica E.L. Green) cause allergies in many people in Madrid in February and March.

It is easily propagated from hardwood cuttings or seeds.

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