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Reproduction of the Old World sycamore

Reproduction of the Old World sycamore

The Old World sycamore (Platanus orientalis L., 1753) is a plant belonging to the Platanaceae family, native to the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

Suitable breeding habitat –
The Old World sycamore is native to the eastern Mediterranean from southern Italy to the southern Balkans on one side passing through Anatolia it goes as far as Afghanistan and the western foothills of the Himalayas while on the other it descends to the Palestinian region.
In Italy, its range is more difficult to determine due to human intervention over the centuries. However, it has been spontaneous since time immemorial in Sicily and southern Italy, where it is also in decline.
The presence of water is necessary for its growth and development.

Propagation –
The Platanus orientalis is cultivated with high or low coppice, with tall trunks only for ornamental purposes, also lending itself to drastic pruning; it resists well to the attacks of the parasites. The protuberances of the trunk that are frequently observed are due to phenomena of “blastomania” with anomalous clusters of buds following physiological alterations.
The propagation of this plant can be done by seed and the cold stratification of two months improves germination.
Spring sowing is recommended in a shaded area sheltered from the cold, especially in the northernmost areas of its range.
Home grown seeds are often of poor quality and low viability. It is best to harvest the seed in late winter or spring and then immediately sow it in an unheated seedbed.
When the young seedlings are large enough to be handled, they are planted in single pots and grown, if possible, in a greenhouse or in a protected area for their first winter.
Transplanting in the open field should then be carried out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
It can also be reproduced by cuttings of mature wood from the growth of the year, 20 – 30 cm long, to be done in autumn on unheated benches.

Ecology –
Platanus orientalis grows in the area from the Lauretum to the Castanetum. It is a lucid and demanding species; it requires fresh and fertile soils, of alluvial origin, where it grows vigorously. Typically, in nature, it is found near waterways.
In Italy it grows spontaneously in the South, where it is often found near riparian woods (0-600 masl).
It is however rare in the south and present up to Sicily where it is found, even if sporadically, in the Peloritani (Alcantara, F. San Paolo, F. Madridi, etc.). Furthermore, there is an isolated station on the Oreto river near the Municipality of Altofonte (Palermo) which constitutes the extreme western limit of the range of the species.

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