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68. Ormeau Plane
A corpulent Victorian plane is a popular curiosity in Belfast’s oldest park.
The Ormeau Plane in Ormeau Park is a charmingly grotesque London plane and a noteworthy feature of Belfast’s oldest park. There are several other short, gouty planes dotted around the island of Ireland including one in Derry and another in Birr. They are similar in character to trees in England and Wales like Cardiff’s Pontcanna Plane or the Turkey Mill Baobab in Maidstone.
Platanus x hispanica 'Western Baobab'
Where to find it
Western Baobab notes
There appear to be two similar yet distinct cultivars of short, fat London planes, one that is chiefly found in England and another, slightly less fat, but arguably more knobbly seen in Wales and Ireland. They have all been dubbed ‘Baobab’ planes owing to their distinctive swollen trunks that, at a pinch, resemble trees in the drought tolerant Adansonia genus native to sub saharan Africa and Australia.
The ‘Baobab’ cultivar name for planes has been appended in recent years, it is doubtful their defining corpulence was as apparent when they were first developed, perhaps they were thought of as an interesting slow growing plane form with particularly indented leaves close to those of an oriental plane. But if they did have a cultivar name, it has now been lost in the mists of time.
Having looked at dozens of specimens across these islands, I believe the two forms must have arisen separately, perhaps at different nurseries. The English trees are connected with William Masters, a nurseryman of Canterbury, while at least one of the trees in Ireland is known to have been supplied by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. So, I propose the Welsh and Irish trees should be known as the ‘Western Baobab’ plane to distinguish them from the English ‘Baobab’ plane.
Other ‘Baobab’ planes
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