Platanus occidentalis L.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Platanaceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois: native 

Natural Habit in Illinois:  bottomlands woods; floodplains; along streams; around lakes and ponds

Leaf:  Alternate, simple, palmately veined, 4 to 8 inches wide, ovate in shape, with three to five lobes. Margins are toothed. Veins may be pubescent below. Petiole bases encircle the buds.

Flower:  Not showy. Male and female appearing March to April in separate spherical heads.

Fruit:  A spherical multiple of achenes borne on a 3 to 6 inch stalk. Each seed is tiny, winged, and 1/2 inch long. Maturing in November, disseminating in late winter.

Twig:   Obviously zigzag, quite stout and orange-brown in color. The leaf scar surrounds the bud and the stipule scar surrounds the twig. The terminal bud is absent. Lateral buds are reddish, resinous, with a single scale.

Bark:  Thin, mottled brown, green and white. Often referred to as "camouflage" bark that readily exfoliates. Older stems are gray-brown and scaly.

Size/Form/Shape:   A very massive tree with heavy, spreading branches with obviously zigzag twigs. In winter, the fruits resemble Christmas tree ornaments.

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites: