Any of ten species of large trees that make up the genus Platanus, sole genus of the family Platanaceae, native to North America, eastern Europe, and Asia. Plane trees are planted widely in cities for their resistance to diseases and to air pollution and because they grow rapidly and furnish quick shade. They are characterized by scaling bark; large, deciduous, usually lobed leaves; and globular heads of flower and seed. Ball-shaped smooth or bristly seed clusters, which dangle singly and often persist after leaf fall, are key identifiers. Winter bark is patchy and picturesque; as the outer bark flakes off, inner bark shows shades of white, gray, green, and yellow.
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