The tree of Hippocrates, under which the ancient Greek physician taught medicine at Kos, is reputed to have been an oriental plane tree.
Kew’s specimen of the oriental plane (Platanus orientalis) is located next to the Orangery, in front of Kew Palace.
It most probably came from the Duke of Argyll’s Whitton estate in 1762 following his death. It stood against the eastern wall of the White House, a mansion inhabited by Princess Augusta that once stood alongside Kew Palace.
About the oriental plane
The tree’s native range extends at least from Asia Minor to Iran and possibly from Iberia to the Himalaya. It grows naturally beside rivers, where it is often found beside alder, willow and poplar. However, it can tolerate dryer conditions once established.
A tall, wide tree, its maple-like leaves lie horizontally, making it perfect for providing shade. The base of the leaf petiole covers the entire bud during the growing season to protect it from disease and insects. Other characteristics include flaking bark and round, spiky fruits.