Fort Tryon Park Trees: American Elm, Honeylocust, London Plane…

Fort Tryon Park is a hidden gem nestled in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods, is known for its stunning views of the Hudson River and the iconic Met Cloisters museum. However, the park also boasts a rich and diverse collection of trees that contribute to its scenic landscape and ecological value. Join us as we explore the different species that call this park home and learn about the efforts to protect them from the devastating Dutch elm disease.

The Iconic American Elm:

Without mentioning the majestic American elm, no discussion of Fort Tryon Park’s trees would be complete. These towering giants, with their graceful, arching branches forming a distinctive vase shape, have long been a beloved symbol of the park’s natural beauty. The elms provide ample shade on hot summer days, and their leaves turn a brilliant golden yellow in the fall, creating a beautiful sight. However, they face a serious threat from Dutch elm disease, a fungal infection that has ravaged elm populations across North America. NYC Parks Forestry actively monitors and treats the park’s elms to preserve these iconic trees for future generations.

credit: Fort Tyron Park Trust – American Elm

The Shadow of Dutch Elm Disease: A Threat to the American Elm

Despite their majesty, the American elms of Fort Tryon Park face a formidable foe: Dutch elm disease (DED). This devastating fungal infection, spread by bark beetles, has ravaged elm populations across North America since its introduction in the 1930s. Once infected, a tree’s vascular system becomes clogged, preventing the flow of water and nutrients, leading to wilting, yellowing leaves, and, ultimately, the tree’s demise.

Fort Tryon Park has not been immune to this scourge. Over the years, many of the park’s elms have succumbed to DED, leaving gaps in the canopy and altering the landscape. The loss of these trees is an aesthetic and ecological blow, as elms play a crucial role in providing habitat and food for wildlife in the area.

However, there is hope. In collaboration with the Fort Tryon Park Trust, NYC Parks Forestry has been actively working to combat DED through a multi-pronged approach. This includes:

  • Monitoring: Regularly inspect the trees for signs of infection, such as wilting leaves and discolored bark.
  • Sanitation: Prompt removal of infected trees to prevent the spread of the fungus.
  • Inoculation: Proactive treatment of healthy trees with a fungicide to boost their resistance to DED.
  • Public Awareness: Educate the public about the importance of elms and the threat of DED, encouraging them to report any signs of the disease.

Beyond the Elm: A Tapestry of Tree Species:

While the American elms are undoubtedly the show’s stars, Fort Tryon Park is home to a wide variety of other tree species, each contributing its unique charm and ecological benefits.

  • London Plane Tree: Renowned for its resilience and ability to thrive in urban environments, the London plane tree is a common sight in parks and streetscapes across New York City. Its distinctive bark, which peels off in large flakes to reveal a mosaic of colors, adds visual interest to the landscape.
  • Red Maple: A favorite for its vibrant fall foliage, the red maple boasts leaves that turn a fiery red, orange, and yellow, creating a spectacular autumnal display. Its adaptability to a variety of soil conditions makes it a popular choice for urban parks.
  • Honeylocust: With its delicate, fern-like leaves and graceful form, the honeylocust is a visually appealing addition to the park. Its drought, pollution, and salt spray tolerance makes it a hardy choice for challenging urban environments.
  • Tulip Tree: Named for its striking, tulip-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring, the tulip tree is a true showstopper. Its towering height and straight trunk make it an impressive sight, while its leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow in the fall.
  • Black Cherry: Valued for its fragrant white blossoms that appear in the spring, the black cherry also produces small, dark berries, a favorite food source for birds. Its bark, which resembles burnt potato chips, adds a unique texture to the landscape.
  • White Oak: A majestic tree known for its longevity and strength, it symbolizes resilience and endurance. Its deeply lobed leaves and sturdy branches provide ample shade and habitat for wildlife.

Exploring the Park’s Arboretum:

As you wander through Fort Tryon Park, take a moment to appreciate the diverse trees surrounding you. Each tree tells a story of resilience, adaptation, and nature’s interconnectedness. Whether you’re a seasoned botanist or simply someone who enjoys the beauty of nature, the park’s arboretum offers a unique opportunity to learn about and connect with the natural world.


At Owens Brothers Tree Service, we understand the delicate balance between nature and urban life. For over 60 years, we’ve been committed to servicing trees in the Bronx, Manhattan, and the surrounding areas. We’ve witnessed the devastating effects of Dutch elm disease and other threats, and we’re dedicated to providing expert tree care to protect these vital natural resources.

Whether your trees need trimming, pruning, or removal or you’re facing a tree-related emergency, our team is available 24/7 to provide prompt and professional service. We understand the unique challenges of urban tree care and utilize the latest techniques and equipment to ensure the safety and well-being of your trees and property.

As a family-owned and operated business, we are committed to quality, safety, and customer satisfaction.

Contact Owens Brothers Tree Service today if you’re looking for reliable, affordable, and expert tree care in the New York City area.

Free Estimate (718) 885-0914