(עִרמוֹן, armon´; Chald. רּלוּב Sept. πλάτανος [but in Ezekiel ἐλάτη], Vulg.platanus), mentioned among the "speckled rods" which Jacob placed in the watering-troughs before the sheep (Ge 30:37): its grandeur is indicated in Eze 31:8 (as well as in Ecclus. 24:19), as one of the trees to which the Assyrian empire in its strength and beauty is likened, it being there noted for its magnificence, shooting its high boughs aloft. This description agrees well with the plane-tree (Platanus Orientalis), which is adopted by the above ancient translators, to which modern critical opinion inclines, and which actually grows in Palestine (see Ritter, Erdk. 11:511 sq.). The beech, the maple, and the chestnut have been adopted, in different modern versions, as representing the Hebrew armon, but scarcely any one now doubts that it means the plane-tree. It may be remarked that this tree is in Genesis associated with others — the willow and the poplar — whose habits agree with it; they are all trees of the low grounds, and love to grow where the soil is rich and humid. This is strikingly illustrated by the fact that Russel (N. H. of Aleppo, 1:47) expressly names the plane, the willow, and the poplar (along with the ash) as trees which grow in the same situations near Aleppo. But this congruity would be lost if the chestnut were understood, as that tree prefers dry and hilly situations. There is a latent beauty also in the passage in Ezekiel, where, in describing the greatness and glory of Assyria, the prophet says, "The armon-trees were not like his boughs, nor any tree in the garden of God like unto him for beauty." This not only expresses the grandeur of the tree, but is singularly appropriate, from the fact that the plane-trees (chenars, as they are called) in the plains of Assyria are of extraordinary size and beauty, in both respects exceeding even those of Palestine (comp. Plin. 12:3; 17:18; Virg. Georg. 4:146; Cicero, Oraf. 1:7; Statius, Sylv. 2:3, 39 sq.; Martial, 9:61, 5). Moreover, the etymology of the word connects it with עָרִם, aram´, "to be naked," and with Arab. 'aram, "to strip off bark," the shedding of its bark yearly being characteristic of the plane-tree (see Hiller in Hierophyt. 1:402). The following account discriminates the several species.
The Oriental plane-tree ranks in the Linnaean class and order Monoecia Polyandria, and in the natural order among the Platanacece. Westernmost Asia is its native country, although, according to Prof. Royle, it extends as far eastward as Cashmere. The stem is tall, erect, and covered with a smooth bark which annually falls off. The flowers are small and scarcely distinguishable: they come out a little before the leaves. The wood of the plane-tree is fine-grained, hard, and rather brittle than tough; when old, it is said to acquire dark veins, and to take the appearance of walnut-wood. In those situations which are favorable to its growth, huge branches spread out in all directions from the massive trunk, invested with broad, deeply-
divided, and glossy green leaves. This body of rich foliage, joined to the smoothness of the stem and the symmetry of the general growth, renders the plane-tree one -of the noblest objects in 'the vegetable kingdom. It has now, and had also of old (Plin. Nat. Hist. 12:1), the reputation of being the tree which most effectually excludes the sun's beams in summer and most readily admits them in winter, thus affording the best shelter from the extremes of both seasons. For this reason it was planted near public buildings and palaces, a practice which the Greeks and Romans adopted; and the former delighted to adorn with it their academic walks and places of public exercise. In the East the plane seems to have been considered sacred, as the oak was formerly in Britain. This distinction is in most countries awarded to the most magnificent species of tree which it produces (see Kitto, Nat. Hist. of Palest. p. 249). In Palestine, for instance, where the plane does not appear to have been very common, the terebinth seems to have possessed pre-eminence. SEE OAK. In the celebrated story of Xerxes arresting the march of his grand army before a noble plane-tree in Lydia, that he might render honor to it, and adorn its boughs with golden chains, bracelets, and other rich ornaments, the action was misunderstood and egregiously misrepresented by AElian (Var. Hist. 2:14). The Oriental plane endures more northern climates well, and grows to a fine tree, but not to the enormous size which it sometimes attains in the East. Pausanias (50. 8, 100:23) notices a noble plane in Arcadia, the planting of which was ascribed, by tradition, to Menelaus. Pliny (Nat. Hist. 12:1) mentions one in Lycia, in the trunk of which had gradually been formed an immense cavern, eighty feet in circumference. L. Mutianus, thrice consul and governor of the province, with eighteen other persons, often dined and supped commodiously within it. Caligula also had a tree of this sort at his villa, near Velitrae, the hollow of which accommodated fifteen persons at dinner, with a proper suite of attendants. The emperor called it "his nest;" and it is highly probable that his friend, Herod Agrippa, may occasionally have been one of the fifteen birds who nestled there along with him. A fine specimen of the plane-tree was growing a few years ago (1844) at Vostitza, on the Gulf of Lepanto: it measured forty-six feet in circumference, according to the Rev. S. Clark, of Battersea, who has given an interesting account of it in John's Forest Trees of Britain (2:206). The plane-trees of Palestine in ancient days were probably more numerous than they are now, though modern travelers occasionally refer to them. Belon (Obs. Sing. 2:105), La Roque (Voy. de Syrie, p. 197-199), and others, mention the groves of noble planes which adorn the plain of Antioch; and the last-named traveler records a night's rest which he enjoyed under planes of great beauty in a valley of Lebanon (p. 76). Buckingham names them among the trees which line the Jabbok (Travels in Palestine, 2:108). Evelyn (in his Sylva) seems to ascribe the introduction of the plane-tree into England to the great Lord Bacon, who planted some which were still flourishing at Verulam in 1706. This was, perhaps, the first plantation of any note; but it appears from Turner's Herbal (published in 1551) that the tree was known and cultivated in that country before the chancellor was born. The Platanus Orientalis, or plane of Palestine and of classical antiquity, must not be confounded with the plane-tree commonly so called in Scotland and England. This last is a maple, Acer pseudo-platanus, and, like the rest of its saccharine family, it contains a sweet sap in the liburnum or under bark, for the sake of which it is often tapped by school-boys in spring. Even by those least familiar with plants, the false plane or sycamore may readily be distinguished from the plane, Oriental and Occidental, by its seeds. In the former they are keys, or twin carpels, flattened into wing-like discs; in the latter they are globular caskets or catkins — balls more or less rough, which hang on the branches throughout the winter in graceful strings or tassels, suggesting the name of button-wood, by which the P. Occidentalis is usually known in the United States (see Celsii, Hierob. 1:512 sq.; Hasselquist, Trav. p. 526; Penny Cyclopaedia, s.v. Plane). SEE BOTANY.