The Five Best Trees in Philipstown

For Arbor Day, our intrepid reporter makes his picks

By Michael Turton

Arbor Day is a two-pronged celebration of trees.

On one level, Arbor Day, which this year falls on April 29, reminds us of the benefits that trees provide — the things that light up the practical side of our brain. The 1,000 tree species in North America (and 10,000 around the world) absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, cool our city streets, and conserve energy and water. They provide food – for humans and animals alike. They even bolster mental health. Studies have shown that just walking amongst trees reduces stress and anxiety within minutes.

And trees have economic worth. They increase property values. Research has shown that in business districts, tree-lined streets attract more customers. As a renewable resource, trees can be harvested and used to manufacture countless products from furniture to big league baseball bats. Walk into a local antique shop and it won’t be long before you hear someone say, “Wow — that’s made out of real wood.”

Everyone has a favorite

Practical considerations aside, people simply love trees. Ask 10 people if they have a favorite tree and nine if not 10 will answer in the affirmative. Author Sophia Newtown captured the affection humans have for trees when she wrote: “Trees are born, they develop their leaves and fruits, they grow and die. I can’t ever understand why a tree is a ‘what’ and not a ‘who’!” Turkish playwright and novelist Mehmet Murat ldan used humor to describe how important trees are to people when he wrote, “Why pay money for horror movies? Just go to a street without trees!”

The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist and politician. Morton, who also worked in agriculture, believed that Nebraska’s landscape and economy would benefit from wide-scale tree planting. His idea struck a nerve. More than a million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. All 50 states celebrate it, but on dates ranging from December to May, depending on regional climate. Arbor Day is also observed in more than 30 countries from Australia and Namibia to Togo and Yemen.

Top five

As our tip of the hat to Arbor Day, The Highlands Current scoured the countryside and selected the five best trees in Philipstown. Readers are free to disagree, but only if they submit a photo of the tree that is arguably more deserving. Consider including something in the photo that indicates scale.

Send your photo as an attached file to [email protected] with your name, its location and your argument for its inclusion. The photo should be in a .jpg format and in the highest resolution possible. If the judges at The Current agree that a nominated tree deserves a top ranking, we will acknowledge and share the photo. Beacon residents are invited to submit photos of the best trees in their city as well.

#1. The massive sycamore behind Foodtown in Cold Spring might be the largest tree in Philipstown.

#1. The massive sycamore behind Foodtown in Cold Spring might be the largest tree in Philipstown.

#2. Arborist Lou Kingsley is dwarfed by this mammoth tulip tree located between Cold Spring and Garrison.

Tulip Tree

#3. This beautiful magnolia tree lives in the heart of Cold Spring.

Magnolia 1

#4. This giant nikko fir is located in Garrison overlooking the Hudson River.

Nikko Fr

#5. Great pains are being taken to protect the Copper Beech at the Butterfield development in Cold Spring.

copper beech2

7 thoughts on “The Five Best Trees in Philipstown

  1. Great shots, Mike! We wake up to the Sycamore every morning, coffee in hand. Love to know the history if anyone has some.

    • Loved the view of that Sycamore from the back yard of our old house on Benedict Road as well (not so much during autumn yard clean-up – that thing has a lot of leaves!).

      An amazing tree – I’m guessing it has to be at least 200+ years old and certainly the largest tree in the village.

  2. Why not name these trees? My vote for the name for that majestic sycamore would be The Great Spirit Sycamore. It is the finest tree in the village.

  3. Don’t forget that huge white oak visible from the Boscobel grounds looking north in the open field.

  4. I love that idea, Michael. The Cold Spring Sycamores seem like majestic kings of the forest. There are also a few huge sycamores along Foundry Brook and Bank Street. One of them is home to a nesting pair of red-shouldered hawks.

  5. One of the most spectacular trees in town is the large White Oak visible in the field on the north side of Cat Rock Road (Route 403) just east of the Desmond-Fish Library. It isn’t the tallest, nor does it have the largest circumference trunk, but I estimate its crown at 100 feet or more in diameter! The branches down to the ground are a beautiful representation of the mature form of this species.