New York City, NY

Commentary: The Most Unforgettable Tree in Manhattan

Remington Write

Because obviously, New York City is renowned for its trees
Leonard, The Magnificent American Elm on Central Park West in winterPhoto byTammy Remington

Curiously, most people don't immediately think of trees when someone mentions New York City. And yet, there are nearly 900,000 trees mapped in the five boroughs. Unmapped, it's over five million trees that even today provide tree cover to nearly 24% of the city.

Trees are living, breathing miracles. Remember, no trees, no nothing.

Richard Power’s astonishing novel, “The Overstory” highlights the power, ingenuity, patience, and magic of trees (and, yes, this is a strong recommendation to read that book).

Reading that book prompted the naming of a particularly fabulous American Elm that lives across the street from the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West in New York City. Leonard is unlikely to realize or care what any of those buzzy, annoying humans call - uh - him. But the name perfectly suits such a majestic and complicated tree.
Leonard in summer /Photo byTammy Remington

According to the New York City Street Tree Map, Leonard is an American Elm. While naming a tree may seem whimsical and silly, the City of New York takes the time to measure precisely how much stormwater this tree intercepts annually (8,638 gallons) as well as air pollutants removed (9 pounds) and the carbon dioxide reduced each year (18,636 tons). All this adds up to an annual value of $562.86 (see the above link).

Naming the tree was easier.
Leonard in early spring /Photo byTammy Remington
Leonard in spring /Photo byTammy Remington

So is visiting Leonard. In every season and in every level of light, Leonard is a beacon. The tree absolutely defies gravity with limbs that stretch out further than its full height. This spreading giant of a tree is especially striking to see in winter.
When Leonard sheds foliage you can really see the stupendous spread of those branchesPhoto byTammy Remington

In a city where it's never fully dark, moreover, seeing Leonard at night can be haunting.
Leonard at night /Photo byTammy Remington

As winters become milder, we're still waiting for snow in New York City this year. But as soon as it starts falling, it will be time to visit Leonard again.
Leonard in the snow - not this year /Photo byTammy Remington

Of course, there are other breathtakingly beautiful trees in the city. Hundreds of them live up in the Bronx in Woodlawn Cemetary. Even better is the old-growth bit of forest still ignoring the buzzy, annoying humans up in Inwood. Additionally, there are botanical gardens in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens where trees rule.

Even in the middle of Manhattan, there are 840 acres of trees, ponds, streams, meadows, playing fields, and more trees. Central Park saves the sanity of millions of stressed-out New Yorkers every day. Because...trees.

As someone somewhere supposedly said:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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