Raising Your London Plane 'Yarwood'

Raising Your London Planetree

About this Tree

            This tree is a London Planetree, variety “Yarwood” (Platanus x acerifolia).

The tree is a hybrid of the American sycamore and the Oriental Planetree, and has been widely planted as a street tree in London and in city environments (hence its name.) 

Michael Dirr says of the variety “Yarwood”:  “…mildew resistant; after seven years in the Milliken Arboretum, it appears as the best of the improved selections; fast growth, tight pyramidal outline, disease-free, early exfoliating, cream-colored aging to olive-brown bark, … I am enamored with this cultivar’s early performance.” (From Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Dirr, fifth edition.)

A Suitable Site

            The London Plane tree prefers deep, rich, moist but well-drained soils, and is high tolerant of urban conditions.  It is a tall tree reaching a maximum height of 70-100 foot with a spread of 60 foot, and therefore should be sited where it has room to expand and provide a substantial canopy.  It grows at a medium rate, reaching 35 foot in about 20 years.  It is regarded as perhaps the handsomest trees for winter character because of its beautiful variegated exfoliating bark, and should be sited where the bark can be appreciated.

Observations from Audubon Park:

London Plane ‘Yarwood’ Seedlings.  Our first Yarwoods were planted in 2007.  These trees have been rapidly growing, with excellent upright form and developed spectacular white bark.    The foliage has been very healthy with large beautiful leaves.  We are fortunate to have a source of natural seedlings (which will have some variability).  These are starting very small, but grow quickly. They may have some tendency to surface rooting.  They need pruning to keep young branches growing “laterally”, that is, straight out from the trunk.  The tree grows so rapidly that it is a challenge to keep the branches small enough to allow easy removal for clearance on roadways and sidewalks.  Two of the three had significant branch damage from other trees coming down on them, but show good trunk healing.

Note that an existing London Plane on Audubon Parkway (not this variety) has not been properly pruned and has been shaded, with resulting poor form and large diameter low branches.

You can see the three young trees, planted in 2007, all now over 35 feet in height, in Triangle Park on the Audubon Parkway easement, at 1107 Audubon Parkway, and at 3304 Thrush.  Three-foot sprouts have been planted in Robin Park, in Henderson Park, and on several open Crossbill areas, where the water table is high.  Watch these grow by leaps and bounds!  This is a great tree to see from a distance because of the white bark.