Tree Identification

To survey the common trees in Prospect Park, we selected several trees and identified them. The following trees were identified with the help from “New York City Trees- A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area.”1 The descriptions are also based on the information in the field guide.

Flowering Dogwood:

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood Leaves

Common Name: Flowering Dogwood
Binomial Name: Cornus florida L.
Mature Height: 18 – 40 ft.
Leaves: Opposite, pointed, leaves from 2 to 4 inches long; smooth edges, straight central vein; turns red in fall.

Description: Because it produces a shock-resistant, fine grained wood that wears smooth with use, the flowering dogwood was once a valuable source of lumber. Its tiny little red fruits will fall to the ground in autumn.

Sugar Maple:

Acer Saccharum Marshall

Sugar Maple

Surgar Maple Leaves

Common Name: Sugar Maple
Binomial Name: Acer saccharum Marshall
Mature Height: 60 – 80 ft.
Leaves: Opposite leaves from 3.5 inches to 5.5 inches wide; 5 or rarely 3 lobes with long tips; edges smooth except for a few irregular wavy teeth.

Description: Its fallen leaves may have a bright red color that paints the ground of Prospect Park. Being one of the two major sources of maple syrup in Canada, sugar maple can produce high quality maple syrup.

Black Willow


Black Willow

Black Willow Leaves

Common Name: Black Willow
Binomial Name: Salix nigra
Mature Height: 30 – 70 ft.
Leaves: Alternate finely toothed, 3 – 5 inch, lanced shaped leaves.

Description: The black willow is the most widespread native willow species in the city. Its leaves usually have leaf-like stipulates at their stem bases, and the tree usually resides on river bank. Knowing its shape and common location, it was relatively easy to identify this tree.

Red Pine

Red Pine

Reddish-brown bark

Common Name: Red Pine, Norway Pine
Binomial Name: Pinus resinosa Aiton
Mature Height: 60 – 80 ft.
Leaves: Sharp 4-to-6.25-inch-long needles in bundles; shiny, dark green; flexible but snap when bent in half; two needles in a bundle.

Description: The needles of red pine can remain tree for 4 to 5 years. The red pine distinguishes itself from other pine trees with its reddish-brown bark covered with thin, flaky scales. Its lumber heavier than white pine wood, so it is often used for construction, window frames, and doors. Interestingly, the red pine that we found in Prospect Park grows horizontally on flat ground.

Red Maple

Red Maple

Red Maple Leaf Litter

Common Name: Red Maple
Binomial Name: Acer rubrum L.
Mature Height: 60 – 90 ft.
Leaves: Opposite leaves from 3 to 4 inches long with 3 to 4 lobes; each lobe with 1 or more pointed teeth; leaves turn red or yellow tinged with red in the fall.

Description: Red maple earned its name for displaying some red in every season. Possessing not only red leaves, the red maple has leaf stems are also frequently red of yellow tinged with red. The red maple is one of the native trees before the construction of Prospect Park. Although even if it wasn’t, we would probably still see it in Prospect Park because it is widely planted on lawns and in parks for its fast growth and its longevity of 150 years.

Camperdown Elm

Camperdown Elm

Camperdown Elm- Crown

Crown- Left

Crown View- Right

Common Name: Camperdown Elm
Binomial Name: Ulmus glabra
Mature Height:

Description: This camperdown elm is one of the famous trees in Prospect Park. Being a cultivated variety, the camperdown elm cannot naturally reproduce. It has a wide, flat, brown tree crown that distinguishes itself from the many trees in Prospect Park.

Eastern White Oak

Eastern White Oak

White Oak Leaf

Common Name: Eastern White Oak
Binomial Name: Quercus alba L.
Mature Height:50 – 100 ft.
Leaves: Alternate, oblong leaves, 4 to 9 inches long with 7 to 9 lobes separated by shallow to deep rounded notches.

Description: Eastern white oak can be identified by its straight trunk and rounded crown. A matured tree can easily exceed 100 ft in height, with massive ascending branches. Along with many other oak trees, eastern white oak provide a source of food for the squirrels in Prospect Park by dropping acorns in autumn. Visitors may easily find squirrels on the branches of an eastern white oak.

Unknown Tree- Possibly Hackberry

Unknown Tree

The Base of an Unknown Tree

Fruits of an Unknown Tree

Leaves of an Unknown Tree

Common Name: Possibly Hackberry
Binomial Name: Possibly Celtis occidentalis L.
Mature Height:Possibly 50 – 70 ft.
Leaves: Alternate, oval, toothed leaves with pointed tip; have a rough surface and an uneven base; paler green below.

Description: This is a peculiar tree that can be found in Prospect Park. For some reasons, there are many branches growing out of the base of the tree. The branches at the bottom and the branches on the top are very similar, except most leaves on the bottom are larger than those on the top. Judging at the shape of the leaves and the smalls fruits on the the tree, we believe that this unusual tree is possibly a hackberry, which is one of the trees planted in Prospect Park.


  1. “New York City Trees- A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area.”

One Response to Tree Identification

  1. Jason Munshi-South says:

    The first few paragraphs of this section were quite good. If you can clean up and expand on this part about the past and current forest composition, then this section would be strengthened. Do you have any information on the tree planting / landscape philosophies of the original designers, e.g. did they favor certain species for ecological or other reasons?


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