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plane tree

plane tree, sycamore, or buttonwood, any species of the genus Platanus, deciduous trees of most temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, exclusive of Africa. The hairy, dry, seedlike fruits are densely packed into a hard brown ball, hence the name buttonwood. The large American sycamore, or plane (P. occidentalis), supplies a hardwood popular for carpentry, furniture, and butchers' blocks. The Oriental plane (P. orientalis) of the Mediterranean area and W Asia is used for wood pulp. The London plane (P. acerifolia), sometimes miscalled Oriental plane, is much planted as an ornamental shade tree in cities; it is probably a hybrid of the American and Oriental planes. Sycamore is sometimes spelled sycomore, but should not be confused with the unrelated sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus) of the family Moraceae. Plane trees are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Hamamelidales, family Platanaceae.

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Platanaceae

Platanaceae A family of deciduous trees which comprises only 1 genus, Platanus. Plane trees have flaking bark, buds enclosed in petiole bases, and alternate, stipulate, palmately lobed leaves. The flowers are tiny, in several globular heads arranged along a stalk and forming a catkin, each catkin either of male or female flowers. Male flowers each have 3–5 stamens within a tiny cup, female flowers have 5–9 carpels in a calyx cup. Numerous hairs surround the nutlets in the globular fruiting heads. There are some 6 species in south-eastern Europe, south-western Asia, and N. America. They are much planted, especially in towns.

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plane

plane1 tree of the genus Platanus. XIV. — (O)F.:— L. platanus — Gr. plátanos, f. stem of platús broad.

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Platanus

Platanus (plane tree) See PLATANACEAE.

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plane tree

plane tree See PLATANUS.

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Plane Tree

PLANE TREE

PLANE TREE (Heb. עַרְמוֹן; armon). The Oriental plane, Platanus orientalis, is indigenous to Israel and grows on the banks of rivers, especially in the north. It is one of the most beautiful of Israel's trees and is recognizable by its lofty trunk, spreading crest, and large leaves. Its Hebrew name is connected with the fact that its bark peels so that the trunk is left bare (arom). It grows also in Syria and Babylon; while sojourning with Laban in Mesopotamia, Jacob peeled "white streaks" off rods from the tree (Gen. 30:37). Ezekiel, who prophesied in Babylon, mentions it among the beautiful trees in "the garden of God" (Ezek. 31:8). The Targum (Gen. 31:37) rightly renders the word doleva ("the plane") and the Septuagint similarly has platanos. Rashi, however, identifies the armon with the chestnut, an identification which was accepted by European rabbis and by the biblical commentators, and it has been adopted in modern Hebrew. However, this identification is erroneous since the chestnut does not grow in Israel or in Mesopotamia. Beautiful plane trees are found especially on the banks of the River Dan and the River Senir, the sources of the Jordan. Particularly well known is the great plane tree at the Banias Falls which divides the falls in two.

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 65–67; B. Cizik, Oẓar ha-Ẓemaḥim (1943), 224ff.; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 120–1; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 391 (index), s.v.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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