A Tree Grows in Manhattan (But What Kind?)
Honey locust. The name is sweet, or at least half of it is. The locust part is thought to come from its bean-like fruit, whose shape vaguely resembles that of the insect we call a locust. Kind of. In a general, see-it-from-a distance way.
I passed beneath a honey locust—many of them, actually, lining several blocks—on an early morning walk from my temporary lodging in midtown Manhattan to my Rockefeller Center office, where I’m immersed in all that Olympic magazine work I’ve previously mentioned.
I’m taking a 15-minute break from a Russian Olympic analysis right now to fill my brain with greener thoughts and pay tribute to this morning’s honey locusts. They were the only nature I took in on the walk, and even if they reminded me how much I miss being in coastal Maine at the moment, they did add a nice touch and some shade on this sweltering day. I also miss being surrounded by all the great botany books we have at The Naturalist’s Notebook, but I was able, through a quick web search, to find that the honey locust ranks ninth on a list of the 10 most common trees in New York City. That list was prepared by the city parks and recreation department in 2005 after doing a street-tree inventory. The good news from that survey was that city streets had 19 percent more trees than they’d had a decade earlier—a total of 592,130
Here, if you’re curious, is the list of the top 10 New York City trees, a group of hearty species that can survive everything from heavy pollution to having their roots largely covered by concrete and pavement. It’s a list to keep in your mind when you’re walking around many cities, really, and maybe a reason to pause and try to identify the trees you see in urban settings.
1. London plane tree
2. Little-leaf linden
3. Norway maple
4. Green ash
5. Callery pear
6. Red maple
7. Honey locust
8. Silver maple
9. Pin oak
I remember watching elderly Asian women (from nearby Chinatown?) picking up ginkgo biloba seeds from the ground in a downtown New York City park several years ago, and…well, that’s another story, and my 15 minutes is already up. Let me toss in a few more photos before climbing back inside the five interlocking Olympic rings:
Answer to the Last Puzzler
Q: Why did the turtle cross the road?
A: To get to the Shell station.
So it’s hot out. Think positive. What temperature would you be experiencing if you were on the surface of Venus right now?
a) 308 degrees Fahrenheit
b) 546 degrees Fahrenheit
c) 860 degrees Fahrenheit