Posts Tagged 'trees'


SalixThe amazing thing about this city is how every single block is different. Architecturally, socio-economically, you name it, you never know what you will discover. This goes for the plants and animals, too.

Parallel, almost back-to-back, in fact, to the block with the giant American Elm is this big, shaggy Willow (Salix). Another great yard tree of Brooklyn.

In Da Bronx


Franklinia alatamahaFranklinia in bloom. What a scrumptious flower! And the bees agree. (All of today’s trees are descendants from seeds collected by William Bartram in the 1760s. The plant is unknown in the wild.) Sylvilagus floridanusOn the mammal front, Cottontail and Chipmunk and Gray Squirrel.IMG_3877In addition to the frog, a Garter Snake crossed our path, and a couple of the elusive Italian Fence Lizards were seen (more on these anon).IMG_3829See the exuvia? AsclepiasPurple Milkweed Asclepias purpurea. IMG_3838


Nyssa sylvaticaBlack Tupelo/Blackgum/Bee Gum/Sourgum (Nyssa sylvatica) beginning to turn. Happy September!

Revisiting a Gentle Giant

Ulmus Back in May we stumbled upon this magnificent American Elm yard tree in Sunset Park. Yes, it’s growing from the yard, not the sidewalk. It pretty much is the yard of this three-story row house.

I walked by the other day. Still there, still too big to fit into my camera.

Mighty Elm

elm1An enormous American Elm (Ulmus americana) crowding a yard on 44th Street near 3rd Avenue in Sunset Park. The old giant took us by surprise: the neighborhood still suffers from the blight of highway above 3rd Avenue, a product of the 1940s and a wretched vision of a promised land of highways to segregated suburbs. Ulmus americanaThe massive bole towers up in the vase-shaped habit characteristic of the species, dwarfing the home it graces. It was hard to get a photographic grip on it because of its height. I wonder what its story is? Who planted it, and when?Ulmus americanaLooking from the opposite, farther end of the block, downhill from 4th Avenue: the taller, darker green is the canopy of our specimen.

I assume its isolation from others of its species has protected it from Dutch elm disease, a fungal infection inadvertently spread by a bark beetle. The damned fungus has killed off many of the great elms in our cities and towns. I recently walked along 3rd Street in Park Slope and remembered another giant U. americana that was there when I lived in the neighborhood 20 years ago. There is no sign of it now.

We are in the midst of the latest city street tree census, Trees Count!2015 This noble life form, however, is not a street tree…

Mighty Acorns

QuercusRemarkable things, acorns. They’re packed with proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as vital minerals: this is why they make such great animal food. There are not many mast-eaters in Brooklyn Bridge Park, though, where I found these red-to-mahagony colored nuts breaking through the shells recently. QuercusAfter wintering under the big freeze — hibernating, basically — spring finds them cracking their outer shells and sprouting a probing, earth-anchoring root. These will pull the seed down into the soft duff and into the soil. These are Chestnut Oaks (Quercus prinus) and they really were these lovely colors. I don’t recall seeing this intense color before? The Horticulturist thinks this is a safety feature, like those red leaves that emerge first from tree budss, to protect against the sun’s harsh rays.QuercusHere’s another, from Black Rock Forest. This one has sprouted, but hadn’t managed to anchor in the ground yet, probably because it was on the hard-packed trail.

Black Gum Diptych

Nyssa sylvaticaNyssa sylvatica


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