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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Platanus (plane trees)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Proteales > Family: Platanaceae

Produce itchy balls; common in gardens and along streets.

Species cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Platanus occidentalis (American plane)

Native to the USA.


Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane)

Native to southeast Europe.


Platanus racemosa (Californian plane)

Native to southwest USA.


Platanus wrightii (Arizona plane)

Native to southeast USA.


Platanus x acerifolia (London plane)

This tree is a hybrid between Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane) and Platanus occidentalis (American plane or American sycamore) and is grown extensively as a street and garden tree. The ball of tiny flowers matures to a dry seed head ('itchy ball) that when broken up and brought into contact with the skin, causes severe itchiness.


  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.