Platanus orientalis

ORIENTAL PLANE TREE (ORIENTAL SYCAMORE)

22 River Drive, School Lane Hills, Lancaster Township (backyard)

Nik Zervanos

This 25-foot-tall tree was, in 1987, a seedling offspring of the famous Tree of Hippocrates living on the Greek island of Kos. The Tree of Hippocrates was the Oriental Plane under which Hippocrates taught pupils the art of medicine 24 centuries ago.  St. Paul the Apostle may have taught the gospel of Christ under this tree as well.

 

The current tree on Kos is 500 years old and was either planted through a succession of cuttings from the original tree or is the latest "resprout" from the same rootstock. (Note: An individual tree might belong to a "clonal colony" -- i.e., a group of genetically identical trees that share the same root system but generate new trunks and branches over the millennia. For example, a Norway spruce in Sweden is the living survivor of a clonal colony that is 9,560 years old... the world's oldest.) In either case, it is in a sense the same tree under which Hippocrates taught.

 

Today, supported by metal scaffolding and with its huge trunk (15.3 feet in diameter) hollowed by fungi and wood eating moths, the Kos tree is revered by thousands of visitors each year. Seeds and cuttings have been planted at universities and medical schools around the world. Lancaster County now has its own descendant of this famous tree at the home of Dr. Zervanos. 

This amazing species is often the tree of choice for artists engaged in the art of leaf-carving, which entails the delicate trimming of leaves to develop a picture or landscape.