The Best Season Ever: The Pollarded Planetree

When I pollarded this young Suttner's plane tree in January, the results were predicably shocking: a complete decapitation. True, what remained was a trunk with extraordinary bark—but without a single branch.


That was then. By September, new stems up to six feet long had sprouted.


Platanus x acerifolia Suttneri 091418 overall 915


Plane trees of all sorts are classic subjects for pollarding, in part, because they respond with almost defiant glee when pruned. In fact, new shoots had emerged up & down the full length of this particular Platanus x acerifolia 'Suttneri', not just at the top. Only with some relentless bottom-up pruning was I able, at last, to position the step ladder for the higher cuts just below the full-&-happy crown. 


When the canopy is in leaf spring into fall, the tree's multi-colored, flaking, textural bark partners with the dense crown of large maple-like foliage. The bark of the young stems holding that foliage isn't visible.


Platanus x acerifolia Suttneri 091418 trunk hand 915


After the foliage is shed each fall, that first-year bark is in full reveal. In yet another incredible contrast to the bark of the ever-older trunk, first-year bark is glossy, non-exfoliating, relatively monochromatic, and smooth. And as a result of the pollarding, which places a much-compacted crown of young new growth immediately at the tip of a permanent trunk, the contrast between the trunk and the canopy's alternating dense leafiness and smooth-barked leaflessness couldn't be more dramatic.


Stay tuned for the cold-weather show of this incredible tree.



Here's a look at this Suttner's London planetree back in January, before and after the pollarding.


Here's a look at the elegant variegated foliage of Suttner's London planetree, as well as the full how-to-grow-it table.




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