London plane

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French cabinet
MFA# 2005.525
London plane Platanus hispanic


A deciduous tree, Platanus acerifolia, that is similar to the American Sycamore. The London plane tree has hard, tough wood with a fine texture that polishes well. The light reddish-brown wood can be difficult to work but is commonly used for construction, tool handle, furniture, cabinetry, flooring and veneers. The quarter sawed boards are sometimes sold commercially as Lacewood because the quarter-sawed wood has a grain pattern with characteristic flake-shaped markings. London plane trees are widely planted as ornamental trees.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Platanus acerifolia; Platanus hybrida; Platanus hispanic; Almindelig Platan (Dan.); London-Platane (Deut.); platane commun (Fr.); gewone plataan (Ned.); plátanos (Port.); plátano de sombra (Esp.); English sycamore; hybrid plane; lacewood

Plane tree (Platanus hybrida)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Large trees growing to 40 m with oblong crown.
  • Bark = light brown with irregular exfoliating patches.
  • Leaves = alternate simple palmately veined with coarse teeth (12-20 cm long)
  • Fruit = spiny ball (3 cm) containing hundreds of tufted achenes.
  • Density = 35-45 ppcf
  • Wood color is similar to maple (white to tan); mostly sapwood with darker streaks from heartwood
  • Grain is straight with fine, even texture
  • Susceptible to decay and insect attack

Working Properties

  • Works easily with both hand and machine tools, though tearout can sometimes occur in the rays of perfectly quartersawn sections during planing.
  • Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Resources and Citations

  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (Accessed Dec. 9, 2005)
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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