London plane, hybrid plane (Eng); plátano de sombra, plátano del Líbano, plátano de paseo (Spa); plàtan (Cat); albo (Baq); pradeiro (Glg); plátano (Por).
"This port [...] is located in one of three deep clefts that cut the Ionian and Aegean Sea, the plane leaf that has been compared with much accuracy to southern Greece".
'Archipelago on fire', Jules Verne
A large tree that in the Canary Islands does not grow any taller than 25 m, with a straight trunk and a dense crown that casts a deep shade. Its bark is a mosaic of green, grey and yellow tones, and peels off easily in large sheets. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate and palmate, with 5 lobes that have pointed irregular tips. They are large, measuring 12-22 cm in length and 12-30 cm in width. Young leaves have a dense tomentum that is lost with age, and the base of the leaf stalk has a pointed cap that protects the bud of the following year's leaf. The fruits are compound and globose. They generally appear in hanging pairs and measure 3-5 cm in diameter. These balls frequently remain on the tree as winter approaches; later they come apart, releasing a large number of small fruits (achenes) with fine hairs that aid their dispersal by the wind. The alternate arrangement of the leaves and the type of fruit differentiate this species from the sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).
This species requires light, moist soils, although it can tolerate the precarious conditions in cities, including poorly-drained and compacted substrates. It is very resistant to atmospheric pollution and severe pruning, and can resprout from the stump if cut. Currently, not many trees have escaped from cultivation on the islands; these tend to grow on the upper midslopes, or medianías (located at altitudes of between 600 and 1500 m above sea level), close to terrain with cultivated specimens.
This tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean, southeastern Europe and western Asia. Widespread as an ornamental, it is cultivated on almost all the Canary Islands. According to the observations of the scientists at the ‘Viera and Clavijo’ botanical garden, it could grow sub-spontaneously (i.e., not cultivated) on the island of Gran Canaria, although it may also have become naturalised on other islands.