Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Platanus spp. (Platane, plane, sycamore)

Nomenclature etc. PLATANACEAE. P. acerifolia Wild. (Syn.: P. orientalis L. var. acerifolia Ait.); P. occidentalis L.; P. orientalis L. Trade and local names: Platane, ahornblättrige Platane, abendländische Platane, morgenländische Platane (DE), platanier (FR), European plane (GB), sycamore, American sycamore (US), platano (IT), Europees platanen (NL), platán (HU). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: Europe, excl. Mediterranean and North America.

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Heartwood basically red to white or grey. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Density 0.38–0.58–0.65 g/cm³.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows and in clusters. Average tangential vessel diameter 40–70–135 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 55–85–110. Perforation plates simple and scalariform, with (1–)5–10 bars. Intervessel pits scalariform or opposite, average diameter (vertical) 5–7 µm. Vessel-ray pits with reduced borders or apparently simple, rounded or angular. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels present, thinwalled.

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 960–1600–2250 µm. Fibre pits common in both radial and tangential walls, simple to minutely bordered.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma absent or extremely rare.

Rays. Rays 3–4 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 4–12 cells wide. Rays of two distinct sizes. Height of large rays commonly over 1000 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent. Rays commonly thickened (noded) at growth ring boundaries.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in ray cells. Crystal-containing ray cells procumbent. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Transverse. Radial. Platanus occidentalis. • Transverse section. Platanus occidentalis. • Tangential section. Platanus occidentalis. • Radial section. Platanus acerifolia. • Perforation plates. Platanus acerifolia. Perforation plates both scalariform (left) and simple (right). • Miscellaneous. Platanus acerifolia. Intervessel pitting opposite (left); prismatic crystals in ray cells (right).

The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009.’.