Platanus orientalis var. digitata: Cut-Leaf Oriental Planetree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2

Introduction

This deciduous tree is a selection from one of the parents of the popular London Planetree ( Platanus x acerifolia ) and has more deeply lobed leaves than the species. The leaves roll up on the ground and do not blow around in the fall like other Platanus spp. Leaves are almost silver maple-like. Capable of reaching perhaps 80 feet in height, the Oriental Planetree has very strong branches and was quite useful as a shade tree until disease struck. The wood of Platanus spp. is so tough, dense and hard it is often used for butcher's blocks and furniture. The springtime flowers are followed by fruits which are found on stalks in groups of three to 6. The attractive bark is cream colored and flaky and very striking in the winter.

Figure 1. Mature Platanus orientalis var. digitata: Cut-Leaf Oriental Planetree
Figure 1.  Mature Platanus orientalis var. digitata: Cut-Leaf Oriental Planetree
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Platanus orientalis var. digitata
Pronunciation: PLAT-uh-nus or-ee-en-TAY-liss variety dij-ih-TAY-tuh
Common name(s): Cut-Leaf Oriental Planetree
Family: Platanaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 9A (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: shade
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 50 to 80 feet
Spread: 40 to 70 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round, pyramidal
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: incised, serrate, lobed
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage

Flower

Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown, tan
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown

Other

Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: sensitive to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Naturally found along streams and floodplain riverbeds, Oriental Planetree should be grown in full sun or partial shade on moist soils. It grows on acid or alkaline soil, wet or dry. Leaves may drop early in dry years. Should be grown primarily for its resistance to anthracnose disease which can be devastating to American Sycamore, but it is rare in the trade.

Propagation is by cuttings which root easily but they transpire fast so they need lots of mist in the first week after being inserted into the growing media.

Pests

Pests are probably lace bug, and others.

Diseases

The cultivar probably will be subjected to the same disease problems as the species.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH645, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH645

Date: 2015-04-05
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  • Michael Andreu