The oriental plane tree, Platanus orientalis, is a very close relative of the common sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, of Eastern North America. In several translations of the Bible a species of fig is called sycamore, a corruption of "sycamine". Figs and plane trees are unrelated. The oriental plane has broad leaves, mottled brown and white bark, and small inconspicuous flowers which develop into the spherical ball-like fruits typical of the of the sycamore native to eastern North America.
At one time the oriental plane may have been more widely distributed in the Middle East but is now commonly planted as a street tree. The largest native stands are found along the upper reaches of the Jordan river as well as along springs and rivers in Jordan and Syria.
After Laban had removed the streaked and spotted of the flock, those mottled like the trunk of the plane tree, he distanced himself from his son-in-law. Jacob then designed a genetics experiment to insure that he would indeed receive the blessing promised to him by God (Genesis 30:37). He peeled the bark off three species of trees and thinking they would determine the type of offspring, put them in front of the watering troughs where the animals would see them. How did he learn this?
As noted in Ezekiel 31:8, the tree can reach a large size and be very attractive. Ezekiel emphasizes perhaps because the branches of the plane tree in contrast to the "boughs of the pine" because an old plane tree can have very thick branches.