43. Hybrid Planetrees/Sycamore

(Platanus x hybrida)

Other Common Name: London Planetree

Family: Plantanaceae

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More than 100 hybrid Planetrees, or Sycamores, placidly overhang  Memorial Way. The original 57 were planted in 1920 as memorials for UW faculty and students killed in the first World War. These trees are appropriate for the role, being monumentally large and long lived. The eastern United States sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) crossed with its Old World counterpart (P. orientalis) resulted in this vigorous offspring that have been planted since the late 1600s. The leaves are maple-like, but have rather short stalks. Round seed heads dangle on stout string-like stalks. The fall foliage color is drab yellow-brown, but the exfoliating patchy bark mottles the trunks handsomely, especially in severe winter cold. The most famous of these hybrid clones is the one called London Plane, which grows taller with paler bark and droopier branches than our campus trees.

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