Plane Tree

The plane tree was planted in the parks of the country residences at the beginning of the 19th century to commemorate the birth of the son of Napoleon, and it is not so rare to find these trees in Lombardy.

The garden of Villa Cusani Tittoni Traversi was no exception, and where the use of plane trees is also documented in the archives in the 19th century.
In the dense foliage of the forest that characterizes this romantic, English, landscaped garden designed by landscape architect, Antonio Villoresi, in the first half of the 19th century, one can easily see these rugged and majectic specimens with dome-like crowns, big twisted branches and the characteristic spotted bark reminiscent of a military camouflage uniform.
The particular colour of the ”bark” can be easily explained by the fact that the seed coat easily flakes, detaching itself from the plant; this does not allow the tree to be stifled by layers of sulphur soot present in today’s polluted environment.
The tree belongs to the family of the Platanaceae, and was introduced in Italy through trade with Crete and Greece, and was very popular and appreciated for its extraordinary shade, due to the extension of 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 in Greek, platus comes from platanos which means wide, flat.
They are monoecious plants with flowers gathered in dense spherical inflorescences that differ, depending on the position of growth, and in the colour; the female flowers are red in colour and grow at the end of the branch, while the male flowers which are small and green, grow in front of the first. 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 the winter, making the plant look like a decorated Christmas tree.
In the park of Villa Cusani Tittoni Traversi, some specimens of plane trees positioned with other deciduous species, gladden visitors who can stop and rest in the shade of their fronds while sitting on stone benches. The arrangement of the plane trees in Desio recalls the first Platonic Academy in Athens, where philosophers, writers and artists loved to talk. These compete with other specimens of this arboreal essence present in numerous country villas in Lombardy, among which worth mentioning is the splendid plane tree present at Villa Visconti Borromeo Litta in Lainate, positioned between the Nymphaeum and the art nouveau glass houses.
The specimens of Desio and Lainate, however, cannot compete with the most famous plane tree in the world that is located in the famous 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.