It is often thought to be a hybrid of the Oriental Plane (P. orientalis) with the American Sycamore (P. occidentalis). However, some authorities think that it may be a cultivar or an intraspecific hybrid of P. orientalis.
It forms a very large growing, deciduous tree. The leaves are large and maple-like. The flowers and fruit are borne in balls, growing to be about 3 cm across. The tree is often noted for its peeling bark, leaving a dappled trunk.
It is first recorded as occurring in western Europe in the 17th century, in areas where the Oriental Plane and the Occidental Plane grew in proximity to one another. While it is generally thought to be a hybrid between these, some botanists consider it to be a variety of the Oriental Plane. The leaf and flower characteristics are intermediate between the two parent species. Seedlings are often found near mature trees.
It is very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction, and for this reason it is a popular urban roadside tree. It is now extensively cultivated in most temperate latitudes as an ornamental and parkland tree, and is often the most common tree in urban areas (hence the name London Plane). It has a greater range than the Oriental Plane, and is less susceptible to disease than the American Plane.