99 Percent

of the trees at Occupy Wall Street‘s Liberty Square (f.k.a. Zuccotti Park) are Honeylocusts, Gleditsia triacanthos. Click on image to open big. There is a lone London Plane, Platanus ‘x acerifolia‘ in the northwest corner, or right-hand side of the picture. (Sorry, the creepy mobile police observation tower was off-limits for a more encompassing picture.)

The Honeylocust is a common street tree here in NYC; its tiny leaflets turn a lovely yellow this time of year. This is the species that produces the twisty brown pods that pile up on our sidewalks and get crushed beneath our feet. Before that messy fate, though, you should collect them: with their loose seeds, they’re nice music-makers for the younger set.Cultivated versions of this tree now planted in the city have had their magnificent trunk thorns bred out of them, but you can still find the three-inch-long thorns or spines — some argue they evolved as defense against herbivorous dinosaurs; I’m guessing Brokfield Properties, which claims to own the plaza, is sorry now they didn’t plant the old school trees — in our parks and tucked into unexpected green spaces. The sweet pulp inside the pods is supposedly where the tree gets its common name. Horses are supposed to enjoy eating these — I’ve heard this forever, and wonder if any horse people out there can verify it? Closer inspection of one of these pods reveals that something in the invertebrate way has bored a hole. This may be something coming out, or getting in, to eat, to shelter for the winter, to lay its eggs, perchance to dream. You’ll find similar holes in acorns and other meaty food/shelter sources.

Trees of Zuccotti Park is looking out for the Occupied honeylocusts.

1 Response to “99 Percent”

  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog November 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Nice segue from OWS to the honeylocust! I think it was actually browsing mastodons that led to the development of thorns. Old-school Honeylocusts are all over Riverside Park. We used to think they were carob trees, and they are indeed related. Apparently, the thorns were used a needles for darning by Civil War soldiers (or so the story goes). Bizarrely, one of the most consistently popular posts on my blog is “Mastodons in Manhattan: How the Honeylocust Tree Got Its Spikes” ( http://wp.me/pGHnM-h3 ).

    I’, still smiling over the 99% angle …

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