PLATANUS orientalis var. acerifolia 'Columbia'
Plant Common Name
Tall and upright, with spreading branches covered in flaking gray and tan bark, and large, maple-like leaves, ‘Columbia’ is a selection of London planetree recognized as an improved form for urban street tree use. This hybrid between the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Asian planetree (P. orientalis)
combines the qualities of the two species into a tough, adaptable, upright deciduous tree with upper branches that spread widely to cast broad shade. It is resistant to the leaf diseases mildew and anthracnose and limits decay from wounds that might lead to branch drop or tree failure.
The leaves emerge in spring a bright, pale green, unfurling as wide as long, with five distinct lobes that are short and stubby. The flower clusters appear at the time the leaves first emerge. Blossoms are either male or female, colored a rusty salmon, and appear in different clusters across the branches. Small, golf ball-sized fruits develop afterwards, first green and then becoming light brown in color, borne in groups of two to three, and decorate the branches well into winter. The fall leaf color is usually golden yellow, or accented with tan, but nothing outstanding. The attractive, rough and knobby bark peels off in rounded patches in a mosaic of gray, tan, and brown, revealing a smooth, almost white layer.
Grow 'Columbia' on fertile, moist, deep soils in full sun for its finest growth and stature. It does demonstrate considerable tolerance for the drier and more shallow soils of residential suburbs, too. As it attains a huge mature size, do not grow it too close to buildings but favor it with a spacious locale in the landscape. It is a spectacular shade tree for the lawn or to line spacious avenues. In times of drought, or in regions with long, hot summers, the foliage can brown in late summer, and become fully dormant and dry-looking by fall. Moreover, the large, dry, fallen leaves or fruits could be considered annoying in more pristine neighborhoods or near sidewalks and parked cars.