Flatbush Tree Tour, Saturday, April 25

2009.04.23 IMPORTANT TRANSIT SERVICE ADVISORY: The Manhattan-bound Q train will only stop at Church Avenue between Kings Highway and Prospect Park this weekend. Coney Island bound trains will make all stops.

Argyle Road in my neighborhood of Beverley Square West in Flatbush, Brooklyn, one of the blocks that will be on Saturday’s tour.
364 (left), 358, and 352 Argyle Road, Beverley Square West

This Saturday, April 25, join Sustainable Flatbush in our second year of celebrating Arbor Day and the magnificent street trees of Brooklyn’s Victorian Flatbush. The Sustainable Flatbush Arbor Day 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour reprises last year’s route, visiting the Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods of Beverley Square West and Prospect Park South.

Tours will depart at 11am and 12noon from Third Root Community Health Center at 380 Marlborough Road, just south of Cortelyou Road. [GMAP] Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road and walk one block west (left) to Marlborough Road after exiting the station.

View Sustainable Flatbush Arbor Day 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map

Your tour guides will be my neighbor, Tracey Hohman, a professional gardener, and yours truly. Throughout the tour, we will:

  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the many ways street trees benefit the environment
  • explain how to obtain and care for street trees
  • and more

This FREE tour is a little over a mile in length and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tours will take place rain or shine. Please gear appropriately for the weather and walk: sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, water, and so on.

The area boasts a rich variety of both street trees and ornamental trees and shrubs. On the tour, you will see:

  • Acer platanoides, Norway Maple
  • Aesculus hippocastanum, Horsechestnut
  • Amelancier, Serviceberry
  • Betula nigra, River Birch
  • Cercis canadensis, Redbud
  • Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood
  • Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Red Cedar
  • Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo
  • Gleditsia triacanthos, Honey Locust
  • Liquidambar styraciflua, Sweetgum
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Dawn Redwood
  • Pinus strobus, White Pine
  • Platanus x acerifolia, London Plane
  • Pyrus calleryana, Flowering Pear, Callery Pear
  • Quercus palustris, Pin Oak
  • Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’, Columnar English Oak
  • Sophora japonica, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree
  • Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock
  • Ulmus americana, American Elm
  • … and many more

For more information about the tour, please email garden AT sustainableflatbush DOT org.

Sustainable Flatbush brings neighbors together to discuss, educate, and advocate for sustainable living in our Brooklyn neighborhood and beyond.


Related Content

Arbor Day posts


Sustainable Flatbush



To request a free street tree, fill out the form at http://www.nyc.gov/freetree

Million Trees NYC
Trees New York

Online Tree ID Guide, Arbor Day Foundation


Dirr, Michael A. Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Timber Press. ISBN-13: 9780881924046

Propagation of Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Propagation of Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

General characteristics

Sassafras albidum, Sassafras, is a medium-sized deciduous tree in the Lauraceae, the Laurel family. This is a family of mostly pantropical, evergreen shrubs and trees; Sassafras has the most northern distribution of the Lauraceae.

Native range and habitat

Sassafras is widespread in eastern North America, from Maine to Ontario and Michigan, south to Florida and eastern Texas. It’s most common as a successional plant in disturbed areas.

Because of its wide natural range, select a local ecotype, or acquire from a local nursery, for best adaptation to your conditions.

Asexual/vegetative propagation

Sassafras can form pure stands through suckering. Specimens propagated by apparent transplantation from the field may actually be suckers separated from a parent plant or stand. These progeny are prone to suckering from lateral roots. To minimize this, do not transplant from the wild. Plant only container-grown seedlings. [Cullina, DIRR1997, Flint]

Propagation from root cuttings is possible.

Sexual propagation

Plants are dioecious.

Flowering and Pollination

Clusters of flowers with bright yellow sepals appear in early Spring, just before the leaf buds break. Flowers are pollinated by bees and flies.


Fruit are produced every year or two after the plant reaches maturity at about ten years of age. Fruit matures in the Fall. The fruit is an oil-rich, oval, blue-black drupe held on a red stem. Sassafras fruits are eaten by many species of birds.

Seeds may be gathered when fruits turn dark blue. Cleaned seeds may be stored for up to two years at cool temperatures. 120 Stratification – prechilling – for 120 days is required for germination. [USDA]


Cullina, William. Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines. 2002. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-09858-3
[DIRR1997] Dirr, Michael. Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs. 1997. Timber Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-88192-404-6
[DIRR1998] Dirr, Michael. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Revised 1998. Stipes Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0-87563-795-2
Flint, Harrison. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America. 1983. Wiley. ISBN: 0-471-86905-8
Sullivan, Janet (1993). “Sassafras albidum“. Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory


Missouri Botanical Garden
Plants For A Future
University of Connecticut

Brooklyn Mulchfest 2008: Locations and Dates

Update 2008.01.06: I’ve added a post with photos from today.
Update 2008.01.05: I have photos from my stint at Park Circle today.
Update 2008.01.04: I will be volunteering at the Park Circle location Saturday and Sunday for as long as I can hold out. Hope to see some of you there!

Mulchfest 2008 is on! You can drop-off trees at Greenwood Cemetery, 25th Street and 5th Avenue, starting today through January 11, any time between 8am and 4:30pm. Starting this Thursday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 16, you can leave trees curbside for pickup. Be sure to first remove all lights, ornaments, decorations, tree-stands and what-not before turning your tree into mulch.

The big event is this weekend. This Saturday and Sunday, January 5 & 6, from 10am to 2pm, you can bring your tree to multiple Parks locations throughout the city. This map shows all the Brooklyn locations for Mulchfest 2008. On-site chipping locations are indicated by the green tree icons. Drop-off only locations are indicated by the arrow&star icons.

View Larger Map

OTBKB reports reports that volunteers are needed for the Prospect Park locations. This seems like a good way to get out this weekend, meet some neighbors, and benefit your parks and community. To volunteer or for more information call (718) 965-8960 or email volunteers@prospectpark.org.

Starting today, January 1 through January 11, you can drop-off trees at Greenwood Cemetery, 25th Street and 5th Avenue, any time between 8am and 4:30pm.

Starting this Thursday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 16, you can leave trees curbside for pickup.

This Saturday and Sunday, January 5 & 6: 10am to 2pm, multiple locations.

Saturday, January 12: Chipping at Greenwood Cemetery, 25th Street and 5th Avenue.


MulchFest 2008

November Arborea, FotT #18

Festival of the Trees #18, November Arborea, is up on Larry Ayers’ Riverside Rambles. This issue has a link to my post about Brooklyn’s Trees, the Flickr photo pool I started this year.

The 19th Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Lorianne of Hoarded Ordinaries. She’ll be taking submissions until midnight on December 30th. You can e-mail her at zenmama (at) gmail.com. You can also use the handy submission form.

The Luminous Streets

P.S. 139, Cortelyou and Rugby Roads, Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn
P.S. 139, Beverley Square West, Brooklyn

This has been a spectacular year for fall foliage. We had ample, sometimes record, rainfall over the summer. We didn’t get a long drought at the end of the summer which often ruins the fall colors. And temperatures finally got cool at night, while warm during the day. We just had our first hard freeze this week.

Barbara Corcoran, avert your eyes. The rest of us can enjoy this gift. We’re just past peak this weekend, but there’s still plenty of great color. So get out and walk around.

Fothergilla, Vinca minor, and Maple leaves, 329 Westminster Road, Beverley Square West
329 Westminster Road

Japanese Maple, 1505 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South
Japanese Maple, 1505 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

Abandoned, East 16th Street
Abandoned, East 16th Street

315 East 18th Street, Beverly Square East
315 East 18th Street, Beverly Square East

346 East 18th Street, Beverly Square East
346 East 18th Street, Beverly Square East, Brooklyn

196 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South
196 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South

Beverly Road, Beverley Square West
Beverly Road, Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Japanese Maple in front yard, 260 Westminster Road, Beverley Square West
Japanese Maple in front yard, 260 Westminster Road

I’ve been walking past, beneath, this every morning on my way to the Beverly Road subway station. Nothing like starting your commute in awe.

1422 Beverly Road, Beverley Square West
1422 Beverly Road

Brooklyn’s Trees, a new Flickr photo group

Welcome, Festival of the Trees visitors! Go see the photos in Brooklyn’s Trees. If you like what you see, come back here and read about it, and check out my other posts on Urban Foresty and Trees in general.

Brooklyn’s Trees is a Flickr photo pool I started to “share and celebrate Brooklyn’s trees through photography.” The response has been great, and the submissions are beautiful and diverse.

I’ve adapted a definition of “trees” from Festival of the Trees:

“Trees” are defined as any woody plant species that regularly exceed three meters in height; exceptions might include banana “trees” which are not woody plants. We are interested in trees in the concrete rather than in the abstract, so the “cloud trees” at the intersection of Ocean and Flatbush Avenues, for example, are out.

Any photographs of or about trees in Brooklyn are welcomed, including those on our streets, in our parks, gardens, and other public spaces, and on private property. Young trees, dead trees, shadows or reflections of trees are all in the spirit of this group. Photos should be “safe” as defined by Flickr.

Festival of the Trees #13

Festival of the Trees #13: Putting Down Roots is up on Wrenaissance Reflections. WrenaissanceWoman subtitle her blog “Notes from a Backyard Wildlife Habitat” and it’s always an interesting read. You can also find a link to it in my Gardening blogroll in the sidebar.

This is the first anniversary issue of Festival of the Trees. WW writes in her introduction:

Trees are inextricably linked to places, perhaps because it takes them so long to reach maturity and majesty. When we become very attached to a place, we liken ourselves to the trees, and say that we have put down roots. This month’s Festival of the Trees looks at places where trees have taken hold, including places in our hearts.

WW has found lots of good reading, stories of trees from all over the world. Go check it out and leave her a comment about your own “trees of the heart.”

I submitted a recent press release from the Parks Department about the planting of a new Tree of Hope in Harlem, on on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard between West 131st and 132nd Streets. The stump of the original Tree of Hope, an elm, greets performers on the stage of the Apollo Theater:

The Tree of Hope came to symbolize the promise that Harlem held for so many African Americans and performers such as Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson and Eubie Blake were said to have visited it. But in 1934 what was then called the Boulevard of Dreams was widened and the tree was removed. Today, thanks to the suggestion of the Copasetics Connection, a new tree stands near the original site to commemorate this important piece of Harlem’s history. Although an American Elm, the original type of tree, could not be planted because it is susceptible to disease and pests, the new tree is a member of the elm family, a Zelkova.
A New Tree of Hope Takes Root

I was surprised and pleased to see that WW also picked up one of my posts from earlier this week, the most recent addition to my Grief and Gardening series. I wrote about revisiting, for the first time in nearly 15 years, my first garden in NYC. The centerpiece of that garden is a maple tree.

Festival of the Trees #11: Trees in the Concrete

2010-08-18: Corrected the name of the sculptor, Steve Tobin.

  • Added links to the story of Trinity Root.
  • Added links to Festival of the Trees home site and #12.
  • Added the story of the tree in the photo at the top of the post.

Welcome to Festival of the Trees #11 for May 2007: Trees in the Concrete.

Read the story of this urban tree at the bottom of this post.
Trinity Root

There were a lot of entries. I underestimated the work involved in collecting and assembling all the entries submitted into a semi-coherent post! Part of the problem is technical; I’ve still got about a dozen things I found which I need to review. (Note to self: NEVER use the “Email This” feature of Bloglines, since it strips out all reference information such as URLs.) But I think I’ve addressed all the non-host submissions. I’ll be coming back with an update tomorrow (now this) evening, so If I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment so I can follow up.

Trees in the Concrete (Urban Trees)
News and events

The Society of Municipal Arborists chose the bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, as their 2007 Urban Tree of the Year [PDF].

This past weekend was Sakura Matsui, the Cherry Blossom Festival, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). It’s their biggest event of the year, and tens of thousands of people turn out for it. At the beginning of April, there was a single cherry tree blooming. The 42 varieties of cherry trees planted at BBG extend the cherry blossom watching season as long as possible.

The New York City Parks Department pruned a historic grove of trees in Kissena Park in Queens. These trees are the remnants of the Parsons and Company nursery which had its origins in the 19th Century.

Judith Z. Miller of Park Slope, Brooklyn had an exhibition of her artwork formed from branches dropped from street trees at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

Also in the past month, New York City provided estimates of the economic value of street trees, and announced plans to plant one million more trees in the next ten years.


A comprehensive collection of images of trees in concrete from Claudia Lüthi in though trees grow so high, another tree blog I discovered by hosting this carnival.

Terrell at Alone on a Limb shared a photo from Digital Tribes of a street tree laid low in a prominent location.

Bevson of Murmuring Trees from New Jersey sent in a photo of a tree in Baku, with bonus cats lounging in its shade.

From here in Brooklyn, some photos of Magnolias as street trees in Clinton Hill Blog and an unidentified white-flowering street tree in Park Slope from Brit in Brooklyn.

Salix Tree shared images of street tree vandalism from her town in Ireland.


On her blog, The Written Nerd, Book Nerd of Brooklyn shared a poem by Marge Piercy, The streets of Detroit were lined with elms, to open National Poetry Month.

Lori Witzel of Austin, Texas was inspired to write about communing with trees in some familiar man-made landscapes.

In Meanwhile, Back in the Holler, Cady May wrote about trying to understand the patterns of tree survival in an urban setting.

In her blog Tree Notes, Genevieve Netz wrote about the importance of diversity in urban forests, contrasting it with the then-conventional advice given by Charles Sprague Sargent over a century ago. Also check out the photo of a doomed tree. Idiots.

In The Brooklyn Paper, Nica Lalli writes about the frustrations of plastic bags in trees, and choices we can make to reduce this problem.

Words and Images

On his blog, Riverside Rambles, Larry Ayers posted photos and a poem by one of his readers, Joan Ryan, about a tree at a community center.

Dave Bonta writes about the interrelationship of suburban communities and their trees on his blog, Via Negativa.

Ficus is The tree that ate L.A., as Elizabeth Licata explains on Garden Rant.

Julie Ardery sent in a post from the Human Flower Project – a wonderful site – about the Girl Trees of Beijing. Some basic botany is in order.

Dave Bonta, one of the founders of Festival of the Trees, discovered the blog Eucalyptus, whose authors hail from Melbourne, Australia. A particularly interesting tree story they related the past month is that of the Lone Pine.

In her blog, Crafty Green Poet, Juliet Wilson wrote about the threat to an ancient woodland outside Dalkeith, a suburb of Edinburgh.

Other Trees


On her blog, Walking Prescott, Granny J of Prescott, Arizona shared her photos of Dangles, the early spring inflorescences of trees: “The trees have a particular beauty just before they leaf out. Some pictures of blossoming trees I saw on walks around town.”

Jade Blackwater shared her visit to the Topiary Garden at Longwood.

Jade also sent in Rohan Rao‘s striking photos of some trees in India.

Don West sent in his journal illustration and notes about a tenacious tree from his blog Idle Minutes.

Christopher of Tropical Embellishments shared some photos of the ripening fruit of Thrinax excelsa, the Thatch Palm or Pea Palm. I’m going to miss his posts from Maui, and look forward to hearing about his new adventures.

A beautiful detail of a weeping larch by Sandy on her photoblog In a Garden.


Rohan Rao writes about the need to save trees in India, raising issues which had not occurred to me, such as the increasing demand for trees for firewood in cremation rituals. Also submitted by Jade.

In his blog Invasive Notes, John Peter Thompson wrote about the challenges of balancing “plant a tree” messages – Arbor Day was this past Friday – with concerns about managing biodiversity.

Surreal Trees

Tim Abbott of Walking the Berkshires submitted the curious case of Nutrimens lepi, the gumdrop tree (now with bark!)

In Where Trees Have Faces, Fred of Fragments from Floyd writes about the surprise they’ve created for their granddaughter in their Enchanted Woods. (Okay, editorial comment here: I hate these things!)

Check out the sculpted trees of Broken Vulture at bingorage, submitted by Jade Blackwater.

Final Notes

Jade Blackwater will be hosting Festival of the Trees #12 for June 2007 on her blog, Arboreality. You can email submissions to her at jadeblackwater (at) brainripples (dot) com. Deadline for submissions for the June 2007 edition is May 29, 2007.

This was my first time hosting a carnival. I now have a better appreciation for the effort and care that goes with the job! I’m grateful that so many people were inspired by the theme, and the importance of urban trees. I hope that I’ve met your passion and done justice to it.

Trinity Root

The image at the top of this post is one of my photographs of Trinity Root, in the courtyard of Trinity Church in Downtown Manhattan, one block from Ground Zero, and three blocks from where I work. Here’s the story of this urban tree from the sign accompanying the sculpture for the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks last year, when I took this photo:

This sculpture is cast from the roots of the sycamore tree that was stricken by flying debris on September 11, 2001 in the churchyard behind St. Paul’s Chapel at Broadway and Fulton Street. [Steve] Tobin created the bronze sculpture from 300 individual castings of the tree’s roots to commemorate the events of September 11. The sculpture was dedicated here on this site on September 11, 2005. The original sycamore roots, painstakingly preserved by Tobin with the help of tree experts, now rest permanently in the St. Paul’s Chapel churchyard.

For me, there is no single better example of the power of urban trees and the passion they inspire in us. It’s a fitting close to this edition of Festival of the Trees.

Reminder – Call for Submissions for Festival of the Trees #11: Trees in the Concrete

Dueling Maples, 1422 Beverley Road, November 2006. I pass these two trees when I walk to and from the subway.
Dueling Maples

Just a reminder that we’re still inviting submissions for Festival of the Trees #11, which I’ll be hosting here on Flatbush Gardener in May.

Although I haven’t gotten to acknowledge any of the entries yet, I want to thank everyone who’s submitted entries so far. The pace has been quickening the past few days. With over 30 submissions as of this afternoon, it’s shaping up to be a terrific carnival.

Many of you are finding connections with the theme of “Trees in the Concrete”: street trees, trees in cities, urban forestry, and so on. Do you have a favorite street tree? Trees in city parks? Tell us about them! This is not a restrictive theme, so anything which fits the FotT submission guidelines is welcome. And you don’t need a blog or Web site of your own. You can send in a link you find on the Web. If you have a doubt, send it.

The publication date will be May 1st, 2007. The deadline for submissions is April 29. You can submit entries via the Festival of the Trees Submission Form on BlogCarnival. You can also send an email to festival (dot) trees (at) gmail (dot) com with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject.

Festival of the Trees #10 and Call for Submissions for FotT #11: Trees in the Concrete

[Updated 2007.04.05: Corrected submission deadline.]

Still-Life with Hydrant and Tree
Hydrant and Tree

Festival of the Trees #10 is up on Roger Butterfield‘s blog, Words and Pictures. Roger is one of my favorite nature photographers on the Web. He’s in Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England, UK and shares his love and intimate knowledge of his favorite places there.

And I will be hosting Festival of the Trees #11 here at Flatbush Gardener! The photo above symbolizes the theme for this edition:

We are interested in trees in the concrete rather than in the abstract, so while stories about a particular forest would be welcome, newsy pieces about forest issues probably wouldn’t be.
FotT Submission Guidelines

Yes, I am also interested in trees in the concrete, like the one above. Urban trees and forestry. Street trees, park trees, weed trees. So, for the next Festival of the Trees, I’m especially looking for submissions on this theme. This is not a restrictive theme, so anything which fits the FotT submission guidelines is welcome. If you have a doubt, send it. You can submit entries via the Festival of the Trees Submission Form on BlogCarnival. You can also send an email to festival (dot) trees (at) gmail (dot) com with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject.

The publication date will be May 1st, 2007. The deadline for submissions is April 29. It’s my first time hosting a Blog Carnival, so be gentle.

Important links:

PS: The tree above lives – nay, survives – on Westminster Road, around the corner from my home. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, yet.