Platanus orientalis, the Old World sycamore, or Oriental plane, is a large, deciduous tree of the Platanaceae family, growing to 30 m (98 ft) or more, and known for its longevity and spreading crown.
The species name means ‘eastern’. (In comparison, the ‘western’ plane (or American sycamore) is named Platanus occidentalis) The eastern plane’s original distribution was eastward from the Balkans. The tree was called platane in ancient Greek history and literature and by related names in continental Europe. Equally well known in Asia and from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to India and usually called chinar or chenar. In the Kashmir Valley region, the native Kashmiri word for the tree is boonyi.
The oriental plane is found naturally in riverine settings, together with such trees as alder, willow and poplar. However, it is quite capable of survival and success in dry soils once it is established. It has widely spreading branches, flaky bark, and is also noted for its dangling, spiky round clusters of fruits. Its leaves are borne alternately on the stem, deeply lobed, and palmate or maple-like. Flowers and fruit are round and burr-like, borne in clusters of between 2 and 6 on a stem.
The leaves and bark have been used medicinally. A fabric dye has been made from the twigs and roots. The timber, often called lacewood, is figured and valuable for indoor furniture. The leaves are also often used by artists for leaf carving.
The Tree of Hippocrates, under which the ancient Greek physician taught medicine at Kos, is reputed to have been an oriental plane tree.