Common Name(s): London Plane, European Plane
Scientific Name: Platanus x acerifolia
Distribution: Western Europe
Tree Size: 65-115 ft (20-35 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (560 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .46, .56
Janka Hardness: 940 lbf (4,180 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 10,830 lbf/in2 (74.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,291,000 lbf/in2 (8.90 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,910 lbf/in2 (40.8 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: ~6%, Tangential: ~10%, Volumetric: ~16%, T/R Ratio: ~1.7
Color/Appearance: Similar to maple, the wood of London Plane trees is predominantly comprised of the sapwood, with some darker heartwood streaks also found in most boards. (Though it is not too uncommon to also see entire boards of heartwood too.) The sapwood is white to light pinkish tan, while the heartwood is a darker reddish brown. London Plane also has very distinct ray flecks present on quartersawn surfaces—giving it a freckled appearance—and it is sometimes even called “Lacewood,” though it bears little botanical relation to the tropical species of Lacewood.
Grain/Texture: London Plane has a fine, even texture that’s very similar to maple. The grain is usually straight.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small to medium pores, numerous; solitary and in radial multiples and clusters; tyloses occasionally present, though not easily seen with lens; growth rings distinct due to lighter color of latewood and decreased pore frequency; medium to very wide rays easily visible without lens, noded, wide spacing; parenchyma rare or absent.
Rot Resistance: London Plane is rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, and is susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Overall, London Plane works easily with both hand and machine tools, though tearout can sometimes occur in the rays of perfectly quartersawn sections during planing. London Plane turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Sycamore. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Usually moderately priced if available domestically, though London Plane is commonly sold as quartersawn boards, which can increase the cost.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, interior trim, pallets/crates, flooring, furniture, carvings, and other small specialty wood objects.
Comments: Not to be confused with with European Sycamore—which is actually just a species of maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)—London Plane is a hybrid of American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Oriental Plane (P. orientalis).
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.