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(plane tree, or plane), a genus of tall deciduous trees of the family Platanaceae. The trees have a dense, broad crown and a massive, cylindrical trunk (up to 50 m high and 18 m in circumference) with greenish gray flaky bark. The alternate and palmately lobed leaves are on long stems. The small, unisexual flowers have a trimerous or tetramerous perianth and are in a dense capitate inflorescence. The heads may be solitary or gathered moniliformly or racemosely, with two to seven heads on each long peduncle. The fruit is an aggregate nut, which remains on the tree all winter and splits in the spring into individual nuts that are scattered by the wind.
There are approximately ten species of Platanus, distributed in North America (from Canada to Mexico) and from the eastern Mediterranean to Indochina. The tree grows quickly, especially when it is young; it has a life-span of 2,000 years or longer. The wood is lightweight, hard, and beautifully textured but decomposes easily. It is used to make veneers, parquet, and packing crates. Plane trees have long been grown in parks and gardens, on the streets of southern cities and settlements, by houses, and along roads.
In the USSR the Oriental plane (P. orientalis) is cultivated in the Caucasus, the Crimea, and Middle Asia. It grows wild in the Gissar Range. The American plane (P. occidentalis) is cultivated in the southern Ukraine and on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. It grows wild in North America. The London plane (P. hybrida, or P. acerifolid), probably a hybrid of the Oriental and American planes, is cultivated in southern Byelorussia, in the Ukraine, in Transcaucasia, and in Middle Asia. Of the three species, it is the most frost resistant, the fastest growing, and the most easily propagated. Other Platanus species are occasionally cultivated.
REFERENCEDerev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.
V. N. GLADKOVA