|Taken in the sunshine yesterday, the photo does not do the tree justice at all. |
You shall have to visit it yourselves!
The specimen photographed above also has the unusual feature of a 'natural brace' (see photo below). Long ago a branch appears to have grown from one of the major limbs towards another and then fused. It continues to put on secondary growth and provides additional structural support! Unusual but not unheard of, other species seem to have more of a tendency to fuse in the crown, for example the Persian ironwood, Parrotia persica, as can be seen just the other side of the path from this tree!
|The 'natural brace', where branches have fused.|
One of a few large oriental planes growing with us here, and while this species is the most seen of the Planes at Westonbirt, many people are more familiar with it's hybrid offspring, the London plane, Platanus x hispanica. Adorning many city streets and squares, it's attributes as a tree for the urban environment have long been recognised. Pollution tolerant, its young shoots and leaves are clad with hairs which trap particulates and once mature, these are then washed away by rain, taking any particulates with them. The tree also regularly sheds its bark and in doing so, lenticels that have been blocked by pollution are also shed, exposing fresh ones beneath, allowing continued gas exchange essential to the tree. This flaking bark is another feature and draws particular attention to the form and branching structure of the trees during the winter months. The tree is further suited to urban environments due to its tolerance of poor and compacted soils, and also of severe pruning (an unfortunate yet common occurrence on urban trees).
The other parent of the hybrid is the western plane or buttonwood, Platanus occidentalis. It is native to Eastern North America, where it is also known as sycamore, which has the potential to cause confusion!! It doesn't tend to grow well here, with good specimens scarcely seen. There are a further handful of plane species, along with a number of selections of those mentioned above, and all things Platanus can be discovered on this particularly comprehensive website.
|The view looking back down the new path, towards Mitchell Drive. |
Notice the Aesculus indica in flower on the left!