Trees: Five New England Favorites
Foresters estimate that, give or take a few million, New England has over 26 billion trees. With so many, it is easy to miss the trees for the forest. What follows are just some of New England’s most notable trees. Like the New England forest itself, they are a mixture — some are distinctive for the role they have played in history, or their sheer jaw-dropping size, or their breathtaking loveliness. Or because of the hand that planted them.
The Family Tree
The Pinchot sycamore is the largest tree in Connecticut: Ninety-three feet high, with an average branch spread of 138 feet, its trunk measures 25 feet, 8 inches in circumference. Families often link hands to circle the tree.
Where: Cross the steel bridge over the Farmington River on Connecticut Route 185 south of Simsbury Center. The tree stands in a small park.
Well-known to Dartmouth College students, the Parkhurst elm is loved for its tenacity as well as its beauty. It’s a majestic tree, 94 feet tall, whose leaves turn yellow-gold in autumn. This elm survived the Hurricane of 1938, then Dutch elm disease. Twenty years ago, some of its roots were severed during a road project, but the elm continues to thrive.
Where: On North Main Street in Hanover, New Hampshire, in front of Parkhurst Hall.
New England’s Largest Turkey
With a trunk almost 17 feet in circumference, this is a magnificent specimen of the turkey oak (Quercus cerris), 64 feet high, New England’s largest. Native to Europe, it has wavy-edged leaves and large acorns with bristly cups. Some say it’s called a turkey oak because its leaves look like the fanned-out tail of a tom turkey.
Where: Bushnell Park, Hartford, Connecticut.
The Trees the Settlers Saw
Gifford Woods, a small, under-ten-acre stand of old-growth forest in a Vermont state park, gives visitors a glimpse of how the New England forest looked to the first settlers. Some trees rise more than 100 feet from the forest floor. Most of the sugar maples date from Revolutionary times, and there is also a 400-year-old hemlock. A state park and campground allows visitors to sleep within sight of these trees.
Where: Gifford Woods State Park, Sherburne, Vermont, 1/2 mile north of Route 4 on Route 100.
The Tree of Independence
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