Cretan Flora


Plane Tree (Platanus)
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The plane tree can be met in every place of Greece (valleys, ravines, lakes, river banks and village squares). It also found almost everywhere in Crete and is one of the most typical plants of the Cretan flora. Perhaps no other tree, except the olive tree, is so closely associated with the daily life of the Cretans, as the plane tree because has been the spectator of all historical local events. In all parts of Crete, there are dozens of place names coming from the word plane (platani in Greek; Platanokoutsoura, Platanorema, etc.). There are even thirteen villages named Platanos, Platanias, Platanes or Platania.

It is a deciduous, tall and massive tree belonging to the species Platanus orientalis, while there is also the extremely rare endemic variety Cretica, which grows only in Crete and is evergreen. The plane trees grow in wet areas, on the banks of rivers and lakes, in the ravines, near underground streams, and generally in places with water.

Its roots grow very deep in the ground so as to support its huge body. The trunk, which at an early age is greenish, gets brownish with several holes, reaching a height of 20-30 meters and a perimeter of over 20 meters. It has broad foliage and dense, almost spherical, and its branches spread out horizontally. So it is considered the most valuable tree for shade and, therefore people have always planted it in village squares, near cool springs with gurgling water.

The largest plane tree in Crete, one of the largest in Greece, is the plane tree in Krasi and is really impressive. Also, ancient Gortyn still hosts the famous evergreen plane tree of Zeus, under which according to mythology, Zeus mated with Europa.

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