Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Platanaceae, Plane-tree Family

The Platanacea or Plane-tree family is one of the smallest families with a single genus, Platanus. The Plant List includes 9 accepted species names. These trees are native to termperate and sub-tropical areas in the Northern Hemisphere.

Platanus are large trees, up to 150 feet with 1 or more trunks, erect or prostrate especially in riparian canyons. Bark characteristically peels off (exfoliating) exposing several muted colors such as chalky white, buff and greenish. Flowers are small and inconspicuous, monecious, leaves deciduous, alternate, simple and palmately lobed.

2 native species in North America, American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis and Arizona Sycamore, Platanus wrightii. American Sycamore is found mostly in the eastern 2 thirds of North America and Ontario while the Arizona Sycamore found mostly in Arizona with populations in New Mexico.

Of economic importance is the London Plane Tree, or hybrid plane which grows 100 feet or more in height. This tree is thought to be a hybrid of the European Sycamore and American Sycamore. It is often used as an ornamental world-wide including the United States. Part of the popularity, beyond its handsome appearance, is the ability to tolerate high levels of pollution and poor soil conditions.

  • Platanus wrightii, Arizona Sycamore
  • Date Family Profile Completed: 05/05/2016
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 05/05/2016).
    Kaul, Robert, B. the Flora of North America, Vol.3, Platanaceae
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Platanaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 January 2016, 20:35 UTC,> [accessed 5 May 2016]
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Platanus × acerifolia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 April 2016, 06:38 UTC,> [accessed 5 May 2016]