Boulevard de Charles de Gaulle

Leading from the RR station, visitors and city dwellers are greeted with this grand and stately row of mature upright palm trees.

Below, a park in the city with street trees and a parking area. Here is featured London Planes, Palms and the newer generation of diverse and native-to-the-region trees. Our knowledgeable local source and host informed us that the Palms and Planes are in decline and are blighted and that the city is responding by directing more attention to planting more native species.

The Palm trees as street trees are lush and beautiful and it is a shame that they are in decline, but not surprising due to so many factors: the uniform genetic makeup rendering whole swaths of them vulnerable to disease, a recent prolonged drought in the region, climate change factors such as rising yearly temperatures and of course the urban conditions they grow in.

The London Planes create a cathedral-like canopy in this narrow park bounded by streets on both sides. Symmetry, order, and grandeur are on full display and the trees are carefully limbed up for an elegant appearance. The uniform appearance of the single species stretching into the distance complements the sensibility of the French Garden brought into the public sphere.

Sadly, we may be witnessing the last of this aesthetic. 100 years ago, it was imagined and it was planted, the impressive rows of a single species, the cathedral-like canopies, the expressive palms and planes-straight and orderly-going as far as the eye can see into the horizon, asserting the size and greatness of cities, canals and country lanes!

Today, we are benefiting from this late 19th and early 20th century vision. In the city of Perpignan, the gorgeous mature canopies of London Planes, Palms and Horse Chestnuts are at their fullest expression, and we need to appreciate them and comprehend the vision, to fully understand the aesthetic of them.

And here we are, still at a moment in time when they are in their fullest expression of magnificence, there is this blight that ultimately dooms them.

As the grand Palms die off, they are being replaced with Maples and Oaks.

Across from the Railway station.

These Planes, in the typical harsh urban conditions are showing signs of stress.

Street Trees of Collioure and Port Vendres, France

Collioure, France

The ubiquitous London Plane, found throughout this region in the South of France, lining the streets of towns and cities and country lanes. Most often Pollarded, a pruning technique to reduce the size of the trees, involving chopping off the tops and thinning the interiors, the Plane trees are made to fit the narrow spaces allotted for them. The pollarded trees are less susceptible to the Tramontane, the fierce cold and dry winds that blow down from the northern Pyrenees, often for days at a time with violent snaps and bursts. We experienced a bout of these winds and saw the pollarded trees respond accordingly.

Above, in Collioure, the asphalt pavement is encroaching very close to the trunk. Notably, these tough urban trees are still alive. Most likely not for too much longer though, as they are experiencing a blight and share a narrow genetic pool that is vulnerable to disease.

To our surprise, the street our hotel is on is lined with the American Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora!

We now travel to the adjacent sea-side fishing village of Port-Vendres, which features a unique Louis XVI monument bizarrely surrounded by an asphalt parking lot, pictured in the the two photos below. There is an orderly assembly of mature London Planes gracing the parking lot with shade and greenery, however this asphalt sea is lapping right up on the trunks in this case.

We will be continuing this discussion in upcoming posts, so stay in tune!

Port-Vendres, France


Today the Sanguine Root is in Barcelona, Spain. Lined along the grand boulevards are London Plane trees, some of them in maturity and some have been recently planted. Unfortunately we won’t be able to do a more comprehensive discussion of the street trees here on this trip. We did notice that the further up Las Ramblas we walked the trees suddenly changed to Linden trees.

The London planes have endured fairly harsh urban conditions all of these years!