Platanaceae (plane tree family) Platanus

Platanus orientalis Oriental plane


Possible specimens of this parent of the London plane grew on Arguello Way near Stern Hall. The cuts between lobes tend to be rounded and the seed balls are in ones. A favorite tree in antiquity, the plane was mentioned by Plato and Horace as providing shade under which one could drink.

We could not locate the Arguello Way individuals when verifying locations for Ron Bracewell’s book Trees of Stanford and Environs.

There is also the legend of the Tree of Hippocrates on the Island of Kos, Greece. In the late 1970s a reputed seedling of the current Tree of Hippocrates was planted near the Fairchild Auditorium at the Medical Center. This interesting campus arboreal story escaped our notice when working on Trees of Stanford and Environs. The specimen was lost when Fairchild Auditorium was taken down in 2007.

Let imagination play over the world history enacted in the shadows of these (Platanus) trees--the building of the Rockies, the evolution of the mammals and of primitive man. If the building of the tower of Babel, the hanging gardens of Babylon, or the pyramids, are awe-inspiring, what shall we say of the slow formation of the Himalayas, during which faunas came and went while the sycamore line flourished on and on. Beside the sycamore, oak or pine, the Rosetta stone or Elgin marbles are things of yesterday. Why should we not venerate our forest trees as we do man-built temples of classic days? When we are confronted by a sycamore that witnessed De Soto crossing the Tombigbee shall we not hesitate at the wanton destruction of what should mean so much to us?

– Berry, Edward Wilber, b. 1875. Tree ancestors: a glimpse into the past. Williams & Wilkins Co.Baltimore, 1923.


Name derivation: Platanus – from the Greek platys, broad, in reference to the broad leaves; orientalis – oriental.

About this Entry: The first paragraph of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the rest of the text.