The London plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) is a hybrid tree grown from a cross between the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) with the oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis). This fast-growing, massive tree can reach 75 to 100 feet in height with an 80 foot spread. Its leaves are deciduous, large and green. Most notably, as the London plane tree ages, it forms scale-like bark which peels off, revealing a white, inner bark.
Hardy in zones five through nine, the London plane tree enjoys moist soil that drains well. Plant this tree in full sun, although the London plane tree will tolerate partial, light shade. The soil pH should be in the range of 3.7 to 6.5 and consist of sand, clay or loam. If you ever need to move the London plane tree, you can transplant it successfully. However, because this tree lives so long and reaches such great heights, be sure to plant it where it will not interfere with power lines or other construction. You'll want to prune the tree annually during the winter season. Be prepared to clean continuously as this tree sheds its bark.
The London plane tree is well-known for its ability to withstand pollution. Some trees have lived for up to 500 years. The London plane tree is believed to have accounted for over 60% of the tree population in London, England, during the 1920s. Even with the industrial revolution in full swing, the London plane tree flourished. It's broad leaves and shedding bark seem to contribute to its ability to live in polluted conditions and remain healthy.
The seeds from this tree are enjoyed by a variety of wildlife including squirrels and some bird species. The London plane tree is also valued for its ability to cast a large amount of shade. Each spring, the London plane tree blooms deep red flowers.