Platanus x hispanica at Gabalfa Community Centre

Platanus x hispanica 0

Platanus x hispanica
late June 2022

Grid reference ST 15549 78554
Common name London plane
Common name Maple-leaved plane
Alternative name Platanus x acerifolia
Alternative name Platanus x hybrida
Origin Garden origin
Deciduous Yes
Height 31M approx July 2022
Girth 602cm June 2022
Reference 834

This tree is in the garden at the rear of the Gabalfa Community Centre. Height measurement was difficult to achieve owing to the position of the tree.

The approximate age of this tree is calculated by estimating its lifetime growing conditions and measuring its girth.[1]

The 1880 Ordnance Survey map shows that historically the ground was part of the Gabalva House estate,[2}[3} and the existence of large Lime trees nearby suggests that the trees were formally planted. This, together with the open nature of the land, nearby river and reasonable soil quality suggests that the growing conditions were good or perhaps even a little better. After the Gabalva House era and the building of the housing estate and school, it is believed that the area around the tree became a small ornamental garden and finally the Gabalfa Community Centre was built.

Applying the formula with "good" conditions the tree is estimated to be 244 years old in 2022, so it started growing in about 1778. The age would reduce with better growing conditions.

General tree description

Platanus x hispanica can grow to 35 metres or more and live for several hundred years. Its bark is olive green to grey, with large scaly plates that peel off to reveal a creamy bark underneath. The leaves are maple-like, thick and leathery, up to 20 cm long and wide, with five triangular lobes. They turn a rich orange-yellow before falling in autumn. Bauble-like fruits hang in clusters from early summer to the following spring. The origin of Platanus x hispanica is not certain. It is thought to be a hybrid of the oriental plane and the American plane, and was brought to Britain from Spain in the 17th century. The earliest specimens in London are believed to be those in Berkeley Square planted in 1789.

Sources of Information

  1. Estimating the Age of Large and Veteran Trees in Britain
  2. Matthew Williams, Lost houses of Cardiff, 2nd edition, 2021, pages 22-25
  3. The Gabalva Estate and Demesne. The Silurian, or South Wales General Advertiser, Saturday 29 June 1839 page 2