A reader emailed me to express her disappointment that London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) is still being planted in Perth.
I thought I'd share my reply.
Yes, Planes create some allergy issues for some people but to completely ban them is not the answer because they perform a role in cities that no other species can.
A recent study by Sydney University concluded that the allergy aspect of Plane pollen is overstated and that people are blaming them when the culprits are more likely to be grasses and other species.
Yes, the spiky hairs (trichomes) can be unpleasant if ingested in quantity but that doesn't happen too often and the extreme reaction you refer to wouldn't be normal I wouldn't think.
London Plane is the dominant CBD species in most major cities around the world and interestingly I don't see them pulling them out. Paris is in fact planting more.
I think the answer (as always) is horses for courses. In some situations there is literally nothing that will do the job Planes do and we should take advantage of that.
A good mix of trees - native and non-native - is the way to go for a healthy, resilient urban forest and Planes will always be a component of that.
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This is Bryant Park in Manhattan. It has double rows of large London Planes on three sides. That's a LOT of Plane trees. And the park is probably the busiest in New York after Central Park. Whatever allergy issues these trees cause, it certainly 'aint fazing those crazy Noo Yawkers!
Footnote: I'm highly allergic to WA Peppermint when it's in flower - so are plenty of other people apparently - but I certainly wouldn't advocate abandoning them either.