At the beginning of the 19th century the practice of cultivating plane trees, spread in the parks of country residences to commemorate the birth of the son of Napoleon. It should not, therefore, be surprising to find some in the garden of Villa Crivelli Pusterla in Limbiate, in the chapel where two of Napoleon’s sisters got married.
Among the dense foliage of the mixed forest, which once characterized the romantic, English landscaped garden, one can easily see these rugged and majestic crown-domed specimens with busty twisted branches and the characteristic spotted bark.
The particular colour of the trunk depends on the disintegration of the seed coat that separates from the plant and that today does not allow the tree to be stifled by airborne pollution.
The tree belongs to the family of the Platanaceae, and was introduced in Italy from Greece. It was very popular and appreciated for its extraordinary shade, due to its leafy branches which open extensively. The leaves, in fact, are large and jagged with five very sharp lobes that vaguely resemble the palm of an open hand. This feature gave it its name because the Greek word platus comes from the word platanos which means wide, flat.
They are monoecious plants; flowers are gathered in dense spherical inflorescences and differ depending on the position of growth and colour. Female flowers are red and grow at the end of the branch, while in front of them grow the male flowers which are small and green. The Romans and Greeks alike, claim that the flower heads taken with wine were an antidote to the poison of snakes and scorpions.
The globular fruits do not fall to the ground but remain suspended on the tree during winter, making the plant look like a decorated Christmas tree.
In the park of Villa Crivelli Pusterla, some specimens of plane trees positioned with other deciduous species, gladden visitors who can stop and rest in the shade of their fronds. In the hollow of the branches of a majestic specimen, for example, you can see a palm tree growing spontaneously. It is a curiosity and an originality that clearly shows the botanical and horticultural value of old gardens of country residences of Brianza and Lombardy, which today are not always properly protected for their biodiversity and cultural inclusivity. Obviously, the plane trees present in Limbiate like the majestic plane tree that can be seen in the garden of Villa Visconti Borromeo Litta in Lainate, positioned between the Nymphaeum and Art nouveau greenhouse, cannot compete with those millennial plane trees present on the Greek islands. The most famous plane tree can be found in the city of Cos, an island off the Turkish coast. Its huge branches are supported by ancient columns and cover the entire square; its trunk has a circumference of 14 meters. According to a local legend, 2,500 years ago Hippocrates cured his patients under its shade.