It’s a hard life being a tree. You are always under attack – from man and his chainsaw, acid rain and numerous pests, pathogens and pestilences.
Towards the end of the last century elms were hammered into near-oblivion; more recently, ash is now threatened with extinction.
Platanus x acerifolia (a cross between P orientalis and P occidentlis) is a tree whose blotchy bark could well have been the inspiration for Army camouflage kit.
Platanus x acerifolia is also a common sight in many Mediterranean countries where it can grow to 120ft. It’s actually native to Far East, North America and Mexico.
This is a big tree with the lobed leaves common to the Platanus family, but it is that flaking bark that is so eye-catching.
Now, however, the planes of Europe are being targeted by a canker that prevents trees from moving water around. The treatment is drastic – the chainsaw, because there is no known cure.
There are fears it will eventually make its way to Britain, and the London plane could now be living on borrowed time.
It is known to cause bronchial problems, due to the hairs and down shed from the young leaves and fruit, but the country would be poorer for its loss.