All are large, with heavy trunk (or trunks) and sculptural branch pattern. Older bark sheds in irregular patches to reveal creamy, smooth new bark beneath. Big, rough-surfaced, bright green leaves (to 10 in. across) have three to five lobes, resemble maple (Acer) leaves. Fall foliage color is yellowish to brown, not striking. Ball-shaped brown seed clusters, usually on threadlike stalks, hang on the bare branches through winter; these are prized for winter arrangements. Plane trees do best in rich, deep, moist, well-drained soil. All are subject to anthracnose, which causes early leaf drop and twig dieback. Rake up and dispose of dead leaves, since fungus spores can overwinter on them.
P. hispanica (P. x acerifolia) LONDON PLANE TREE. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hybrid between P. occidentalis and P. orientalis. Grows 3040 ft. tall in 20 years; it may reach 70100 ft. tall, 6580 ft. wide in gardens. Smooth, cream-colored upper trunk and limbs. Handsome in winter. Tolerates many soils, city smog, soot, dust, reected heat. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Good avenue, street tree. Can t smaller spaces when pollarded to create a low, dense canopy. 'Columbia' and 'Liberty' are resistant to both anthracnose and powdery mildew and somewhat resistant to cankerstain disease, which can kill branches or the entire tree. 'Exclamation' ('Morton Circle') is an upright, pyramidal grower to 50 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide; resists anthracnose. 'Bloodgood' resists anthracnose; 'Yarwood' is mildew resistant.
P. mexicana. MEXICAN SYCAMORE. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Native to northeastern Mexico. To 60 ft. tall, not quite as wide. Five-lobed, smooth-edged leaves are about 8 in. wide, with felty white undersides. Well adapted to dry, rocky, alkaline soils of the Southwest.
P. occidentalis. AMERICAN SYCAMORE, AMERICAN PLANE TREE. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Very hardy. Native to the South and north to Maine and Minnesota. Similar to P. x acerifolia but has whiter new bark and a longer leaess period. Tree is spectacular viewed against blue sky in winter. Irregular habit, contorted branches. Occasionally grows with multiple or leaning trunks; good climbing tree. In the wild, populations naturally follow streams. Old trees sometimes reach 100 ft. or more in height and spread. Because of its size and habit of dropping bark, seedballs, and leaves year-round, it's not a good choice for small properties.