London Plane Tree

Platanus acerifolia (Aiton) Willd. – Platanaceae – sycamore family

London plane or sycamore tree?  This is a question we often ask in Albion and are often not quite sure about the answer.  The sycamore is a native species.  The London plane is a non-native ‘species’ from Eurasia that may be of hybrid origin. Its suspected hybrid nature is often indicated as P. x acerifolia.

Susan Crawford Rieske planted London plane trees, not sycamores, when she was our urban forester in the 1980s.  Most of the sycamore-like trees in town date back to the time of her work in diversifying our street trees.

Generally London plane trees have two fruit clusters per stalk while sycamores have but one.

Recently Albion resident Mary Schatz reported the tree to the folks in charge of Michigan’s big tree database, which is hosted by the Michigan Botanical Club, at One of their certifiers measured the tree. It scored 348 points with measurements of 216 inches in girth, 109 feet in height, and a crown spread of 100 feet. There are two other large London plane trees in the database with scores of 232 and 189. Apparently, this is the largest London plane tree on record for Michigan. Thanks Mary!