Hot plane trees losing their cool

Hot plane trees are shedding leaves and losing shade.

CITY trees are suffering in this heat with some losing 50 per cent of their canopy in recent sweltering weather.

The CBD’s seen an unseasonal leaf drop especially from London Planes and Moreton Bay Figs. 

At the peak of the leaf drop in December, Perth council staff were mechanically sweeping the leaves twice a night in Murray and Hay Street malls to clear the slip-hazard carpet of leaves. 

Water had to be tanked in to help reduce the stress in hopes they’ll endure the ongoing weather.

While London Planes have been Perth council favourites for decades for their bountiful canopy, recent research has questioned whether they’re a good fit for increasingly hot cities. 

A study published in 2020 by urban ecosystem researchers Ruzana Sanusi and Stephen J Livesley found London Plane trees were prone to lose much of their canopy after just a few days of temperatures above 41 degrees in Melbourne. 

Once their canopies are withered people trying to shelter under them still experience “extreme heat stress”. 

The study “questions the wisdom of planting P. acerifolia” in cities that experience heat waves above 40 degrees, and recommended looking into whether other species might be better urban shaders. 

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