|Plane trees of London
Odd, curious, and misshapen trees
There are some trees which are distinctive because of unusual or distorted trunks, with irregular and changing girths towards ground level. The image on the right is of one of the most distinctive, at Brunswick Square. These are sometimes referred to as 'baobab planes' (after the original baobab).
Some varieties, especially including the Oriental plane, as well as some London plane or hybrid forms, often have somewhat irregularly shaped trunks. In these forms, there may be burrs, swellings, and other irregular protuberances on the trunks.
Some of the extreme cases shown here may be related to the rather more common swollen bole. In this, a much swollen trunk rises from the ground, typically up to about 1.5m high, then narrows abruptly before breaking into the crown. This could perhaps be interpreted as a buttress. However, these boles often are merely barrel shaped, and do not show the other typical features of a buttress, such as roots developing into buttress-ridges. The trees all tend to have similar foliage, glossy and moderately deeply lobed. This is typical of some clones of the Oriental Plane, but it is unclear whether this is their original form, or is due to the same effects as those that cause the trunk distortion. The crowns of these trees tend to be relatively small, and not very vigorous.
A common feature of the trees with swollen trunks is also a distinctive leaf shape.
Other distortions can sometimes be seen, such as the illustration below of a shield shaped development on a roadside plane tree in North London. This has been growing a few centimeters larger each year for several years.
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