View Full Version : London Plane toxic??
I spied a large fallen branch of nicely seasoned London Plane on my walk home yesterday and I'm thinking of picking it up today to carve with. Does anybody know if it's suitable to use for eating utensils?
I think you should be fine. Lacewood is used for lots of things and there are a number of traditional remedies that use Plane tree and are ingested. The leaves and seed balls can prduce allergic reactions though...
The ancient Greek herbalist Dioscorides (First Century A.D.) warned that us that the little hairs or down from the leaves and seed-balls, falling from the Tree in summer into eyes and ears "doth hurt the hearing and the sight". It can cause conjunctival and nasopharyngeal irritation, hayfever and strong allergic reactions in some people. The Plane has also caused 'woodcutter's eczema' occasionally in sensitive individuals. Another thing to beware of is that the spiky fruits can cause mechanical damage to animals who eat them. It is therefore sensible to take care about the location of the trees and not to plant any in children's playgrounds or to prune the tree in summer.
A useful link is HERE (http://www.the-tree.org.uk/BritishTrees/plane.htm#Allergies%20caused%2 0by%20the%20Plane%20Tree)
Thanks Marts, that's very useful info. I wasn't going to collect it, then this morning I saw a photo of a beautiful knife handle made out of lacewood and changed my mind. I hope the park wardens haven't got there first.
The London Plane holds pollution within its leaves, they take long time to rot.
Because it will take up so much pollution and hold it, they were used along roads etc in cities to help clean the air.
Actually I think that you will find the reason for planting them along the roads in london is because the Victorian smog and soot - and latterly the petro-chem pollution - faild to kill the trees off because the bark absorbed them. The bark of the London Plane constantly peels off, dropping the absorbed pollutants with it and thereby preventing thier absorbtion by the rest of the tree - keeping it healthy. Its true that it is also called lacewood but in order to get the lacewood figuring the bole of the tree must be quarter sawn not through and through as nearly all are today. You need to find a craft supplier for woodturners to get the best lacewood and its not too cheap. The wood is very good anyway and for the above reasons is not toxic in any way. Grab some and good carving.
The bark sheds in large sections over a short period of time giving the distinct bark patterns.
Therefore the lenticels do not get blocked with pollution as much as other species.
But the stoma absorb the chemicals from the atomsphere and from rain.