Platanus x acerifolia cvs.’Colombia’ and ‘Liberty’
Family:  Platanaceae

Common Name:  London Plane Tree

In Melbourne, London Plane is the tree that defines many of the “leafy” suburbs of high-real-estate-values. Although over-planted, London Plane is still valuable because of:

  • its wide tolerance to many soil types
  • its survival with minimal summer irrigation
  • its ability to be severely pollarded under power lines
  • its tolerance to paving and
  • the significant summer shade it provides.

When purchasing London Planes, it is essential to have a form that will develop into a strong tree at maturity. Many planes in Victoria come from seedling stock, and these uncertain trees can show variation in branch attachment and wood strength. Budded clones that have good upright branch attachment are the best. Further, the quality of crown developed in the nursery through frequent pruning will determine the quality of canopy in the streetscape. Metropolitan Tree Growers uses budded Planes exclusively and prune the canopies to form a single leader with strong branch attachment. Further, we are also growing the United States Department of Agriculture hybrids ‘Columbia’ and ‘Liberty’, both of which show excellent branch attachment.

Powdery Mildew has been seen on Planes recently in Victoria. This fungus will cause slower growth and ungainly foliage in mid-summer, but will not kill or significantly damage trees. Plane Anthracnose has also been noted on planes in Melbourne, and this “Plane Blight” will cause some defoliation and trunk injury. As Plane Anthracnose continues to damage Planes, other selections will replace P. x acerifolia in the Melbourne landscape. The new hybrid planes, ‘Columbia’ and ‘Liberty’ are reasonably resistant to Plane anthracnose, and may also show some resistance to powdery mildew.

A further consideration is the allergic reaction that many arborists have to the foliage when working with London Plane. This may limit plantings where frequent pruning is required.

Typical mature height: 30m

Useful in: broad streetscapes, pollarded

Sites for best growth: tolerant of most sites