A tree of stately appearance, growing to a height of some 20 m (70 ft), with wide spreading branches and broad dark-green, vinelike leaves affording splendid shade. The girth of the trunk is often 3 to 4 m (10 to 13 ft). The plane tree (Platanus orientalis) annually peels off its outer bark in strips or sections, exposing smooth whitish inner bark beneath.
The name of this tree in Hebrew possibly comes from the verb ʽa·rahʹ, meaning “lay bare; uncover.” (Zep 2:14; Isa 22:6) At Genesis 30:37, 38, Jacob is described as placing staffs from this tree, along with those of other trees, before the flocks of Laban at Haran in Syria. The staffs were peeled, “laying bare,” or revealing, “white places.”
The tree was one worthy of comparison with, but not actually being a match for, the majestic cedar of Lebanon, which Ezekiel used as a figure of Pharaoh and all his crowd.—Eze 31:8.
Plane trees are found along the rivers and streams throughout Syria and in the region of ancient Assyria, as well as to a lesser degree in Palestine and Lebanon.