A Profusion of Fallen Foliage

BHB photo by C. Scales

BHB photo by C. Scales

Today’s strong winds spread sprigs of foliage over sidewalks and streets throughout the Heights, and on Joralemon Street between Henry and Hicks brought down this large limb.

Addendum: The wind blew down an entire tree on Clark Street, also between Henry and Hicks. See the comment thread following this post.

Update: Read the comment to this post by “MRG6726″, a qualified arborist who heads the team responsible for tree maintenance in this area, for a thorough discussion of the hows and whys of tree failure.

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  • Lois

    This is veryclose to the house which was on the house tour; right where people were waiting on line.

  • jorale-man

    It seems like the Heights are often some of the worst hit in these wind storm situations. I wonder if it’s because we have more trees or maybe because of our proximity to the open water?

  • MRG6726

    I work for Brooklyn Forestry of the Parks Department and a certified arborist with more than ten years of experience doing tree work. I lead the crew that maintains CB’s 1,2,3,4,6 and 8. The north end of the borough suffers a fair amount of storm-related tree damage, generally failed branch attachments and broken limbs and leaders, but the south end of the borough (CB’s 10,11,14,15, 17 and 18 generally sustain failures of entire large trees, including uprooting and large crown breakage. To further complicate matters, much of that area has its utilities above ground, which much of the north end does not.

    The main reason that the trees located in the north end of Brooklyn, most notably Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights, suffer the damage that it does is the species selection. Callery pears of the Bradford variety, various Linden species, Pin Oaks and London Planetrees are the primary plantings found in this area. Pear trees have notoriously-poor branch attachments (crotches), dense foliage that concentrates weight at the outer portions of the limbs and tend to accumulate snow and ice and catch wind at the limb ends, a very shallow yet dense rooting system and very heavy and weak wood. Storm damage to pear trees is often severe and usually necessitates removal. Lindens are also very weak-wooded and have weak limb attachments with foliage growth concentrated on the outer portions of the foliage. Pin oak trees are a heavy-wooded species with very dense foliage and extremely shallow rooting. Uprooting is commong amongst pin oaks (think Marine and Canarsie Parks). Most of the London planetrees the suffer the brunt of the storm-related damage, while very strong-wooded and posessing strong limb unions, aside from their remarkable tolerance to severe pruning, poor environmental conditions and vehicular injury, are often already compromised by a combination of the factors. London planetrees in healthy condition usually do not fail. However, the profuse number of large leaves tends to catch a lot of wind and most planetree damage incurred tends to be stem (trunk) failure due to internal decay, such as the Hicks Street tree that made the news earlier this year. Fortunately street tree planting efforts have brought upon a diversity of species being planted.

    I hope this helps clarify any confusion. Please feel free to ask me questions either her or on the streets. I’ll be at all of the Heights’ locations with storm-caused tree damage. My truck number is 6726 and my name is Matt.

  • tom ginocchio

    There’s scattered power outages in Park Slope due to high winds and fallen tree limbs (we are told) Here on Carroll Street our building is half-on,half-out..
    Con Ed says they’re “on it”. Any power problems in the Heights?

  • Teddy

    The light dimmed 3 times in a period of about 30 seconds last night. I had memories of 2003 flash through my head when it happened. The strange part is my uncle, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey called a half hour later and said his lights also dimmed a few times.

  • cat

    Thanks for the tree lesson, Matt. And thanks for helping to maintain all our beautiful trees. It’s one of the things that makes living here so nice.

    You didn’t mention all the Sycamore trees. How susceptible are they to the wind? We have one that shades the front of our apt. and I would hate to see it go down.

  • Monty

    Awesome post Matt. Any chance that a storm could take down that lonely redwood on Willow St and kill us all?

  • hick-up

    Matt’s London Plane trees are your Sycamores.

  • MRG6726

    Hick-up is correct. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) are seldom found on the streets of New York City due to their high susceptibility to the anthracnose fungus, which occurs during cool, damp springs (such as during the past several years), and causes trees to defoliate during late spring and refoliate towards the end of the summer. That having been stated, if you notice a London Planetree (Platanus x hispanica or Platanus x acerfolia), which is still susceptible to anthracnose, though not to the extent of the Sycamore (others are susceptible as well) that is essentially bare during June or July, it may not be dead at all. It should certainly be inspected by a Parks Inspector, or if the tree is private, by a certified arborist. The differences between the two trees are subtle, and unless requested, I won’t go into that topic right now.

    With regards to Monty’s question about a Redwood on Willow Street: could you provide me with an address or picture? I’m not familiar with that tree, though dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) have been planted more and more often as street and park trees in recent years. I’m not at liberty to offer exact statistics, but the proof is apparent based upon the number of immature redwoods with planting tags from the past several years. Redwoods are an excellent selection to offer diversity in any municipality, as coniferous species are rarely planted in sidewalk beds. I planted one at my house in November of 2001. It was 12′ tall at the time, and virtually ignored and left to establish itself, it is now over 35′ in height and thriving.

    I can’t make exact predictions; no one can. There are certain indicators that may lead an educated and experienced individual to come to a fairly well-drawn conclusion of what may happen, generally to some degree of accuracy. As I’ve stated several times, I’m not here to represent the Parks Department or speak for anyone but myself. I could offer my honest and unbiased opinion as to the overall condition of the tree and its surroundings, but I cannot promise any work to be done nor can I predict what might happen to a tree in the future, be in a natural or man-made event that the tree would endure. Never the less, I’d like to get an address, though I will take a look at the redwood when we go to clean the mess on Clark Street.


  • http://Robert HeightsGuy

    The redwood is located on the lot between 151 & 155 Willow Street (near Pierepont St)

  • AEB

    Thanks, Matt, for your very enlightening posts.

  • MRG6726

    The tree at 60 Clark is gone, and an adjacent tree at 62 Clark was pruned to remove a destroyed limb. I didn’t get a chance to eye the redwood, but I plan on being back in that area within the next 2-3 days.

    I appreciate all of your compliments and I’m glad to know that I could help.


  • Andrew Porter

    The dawn redwood on Willow Street is fine; there are two others of its ilk in BH, one at the corner of the Unitarian Church at Monroe and Pierrepont, at the church’s far NW corner, the other visible just south of the walkway from Montague onto the Promenade, behind the big apt building there.

    There are also a half dozen dawn redwoods in the Bklyn Botanic Garden, just south of the greenhouses on Washington Avenue. All of these trees will be really impressive in 300 years; come back and visit them then…

  • Deborah Wiser

    I think the winds have also been blowing baby birds out of their nests. I have, unfortunately, passed by three since Saturday.