Friday, January 06, 2012

Shocking! Or at least a bit disappointing...

A few weeks ago I wrote about American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, here and noted that it isn't a particularly good tree choice for this region.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that London Plane TreePlatanus  x acerifolia (a cross between P. occidentalis and P. orientalis) has been planted en masse at the newly constructed Sloan's Lake jetty.  According to "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs", this is the most widely planted shade tree in cities worldwide. However, in his earlier (1977 edition) "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" he opines that the landscape value is "limited" and that he would "hesitate to recommend this tree for anything."  My guess? This planting was designed by a landscape architect with little horticultural knowledge or understanding of the climate/growing conditions of the Denver area. But, hey, if they survive this could become a beautiful, shady promenade. 
multi-colored, peeling bark, characteristic of Platanus, is evident even on these young trees
 double fruit was key to the identification of this tree (the fruit of P. occidentalis is single)
 I'll keep my fingers crossed!


Annie Haven | Authentic Haven Brand said...

I have brought this issue up on both #treechat and #landscapechat. This is an issue I see happening and could be remedied if City Planning and Park Commissions set standards and had a better understanding of their area's plant life.

For California this is a water needy tree and to see it continually planted en masses in a drought State is up setting.

The there are the leaves and those that have to endure the sound of landscapers blown leaves endlessly...

I hope these make it as I never like to see trees die!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Thanks you for your comment, Annie. Unfortunately, this tree is on Denver's list of approved street trees, although it was given only a "C" rating in a recent survey of local landscape/nursery/design professionals.
Not only are they unworthy of a mass planting, but a mass planting at taxpayers expense is absurd.
Keep spreading the word, Annie!

Acantholimon said...

That could be a relatively good spot for these, since the water table is not too far down. And they are best suited to spots where their ultimate massive size would not interfere: in Europe (not to mention South America and China) Plane Trees are usually hacked and trussed because of their ultimate size: I am a tad surprised there is not more pollarding in Denver. You must know the gargantuan allee of these on Marion. I would prefer a few more Shumard oaks and suchlike around town!

Desert Dweller said...

In Abq, same thing Annie H. said about So Cal, and always with Photinia... But in a large lawn area, with decent water and in more fertile valley soils, such a riparian species provides fast shade w/ strong wood - a rare combo. Though they and even Calif/AZ Sycamore all have brown leaves in Abq's summer heat.

The occasional American Sycamore trees I recall from Denver all looked terrible from anthracnose in Denver's cool-wet springs, while London Plane is said to be less susceptible.

Keep us informed on how it all goes.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

PK, I agree that the high water table and humidity afforded by this location may give these trees a chance to not only survive, but thrive. But I also agree that more oaks would be ideal! I am NOT familiar with the allee on Marion - where? - would love to see it. Sorry, PK, but pollarding always strikes me as cruel and unusual punishment!

David, thanks for your insights, too. I love walking at this park - so I'll be observing these trees on a regular basis.