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PLATANACEAE

PLANE TREE, SYCAMORE FAMILY

Elizabeth McClintock

Tree, generally monoecious, wind-pollinated
Stem: branches irregular below, spreading to erect above; bark irregularly colored, scale-like, peeling; twigs dense-hairy
Leaves simple, alternate, deciduous, generally palmately 3- or 5-lobed, -veined; stipules generally leaf-like, free or fused around stem, shed before leaves; petiole at base dilated, hollow, ± covering bud; blade dense-hairy, glabrous in age, hairs stellate
Inflorescence: heads 1–6, ± evenly spaced on axis, spheric, many-flowered, sessile or on pendent peduncles, generally unisexual; staminate breaking apart in age; pistillate persistent; bracts subtending heads, flowers
Flowers unisexual; calyx cup-shaped, scale-like, entire or 3–6(8)-lobed or sepals ± free
Staminate flower: petals 3–6, fleshy or scale-like, minute or vestigial; stamens 3–6(8), alternate petals, anthers subsessile, axis above anther expanded, disk-like; pistils vestigial
Pistillate flower: petals 3–6, minute, or generally 0; staminodes often 3–4; pistils (3)5–9, ovaries superior, 1-chambered, generally 1-ovuled, style 1
Fruit: spheric head of small, hairy, basally bristly achenes; style persistent
Genera in family: 1 genus, ± 8 species: n temp; some ornamental, especially P. X acerifolia (Aiton) Willd., London plane tree; some cultivated for wood, veneer
Reference: [Ernst 1963 J Arnold Arbor 44: 206–210]

PLATANUS


Etymology: (Greek: probably broad, from leaves)

Native

P. racemosa Nutt.

WESTERN SYCAMORE


Stem 10–35 m; base < 1 m wide; bark smooth, pale
Leaf: stipules 2–3 cm; petiole 3–8 cm; blade ± 10–25 cm, ± round, lobes 3 or 5, acute to acuminate, entire
Inflorescence: heads 3–5, ± 1 cm
Fruit: heads 2–3 cm, sessile or not
Chromosomes: 2n=42
Ecology: Common. Streamsides, canyons
Elevation: < 2000 m.
Bioregional distribution: c&s Sierra Nevada Foothills, Tehachapi Mountain Area, Great Central Valley, Central Western California, Southwestern California, w Sonoran Desert
Distribution outside California: Baja California
Flowering time: Feb–Apr
Plants in PR, with some pistillate inflorescences with peduncles 5–15 mm have been called var. wrightii (S. Watson) L.D. Benson
Horticultural information: IRR, SUN: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24; susceptible to sycamore anthracnose.

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