The Stars of New York City’s Urban Forest

We have so much to thank the trees around us for. Urban forests lower temperatures on hot days, clean the air of pollutants, capture stormwater to help relieve our sewage systems, and even boost the wellbeing of residents. Some even consider trees to be critical infrastructure.

In New York City alone, trees are estimated to annually reduce energy costs by $28 million, remove 2,202 tons of pollution, store 1.35 million tons of carbon storage, and capture 890 million gallons of stormwater!

What are some common trees you’ll see around NYC’s urban forest? According to the NYC Tree Map, there are 234 species of trees you could come across. To keep things simple, we’ll take a closer look at just 3 species, so you can learn how to spot them when you’re out and about in the city.

London planetree (Platanus × acerifolia)

The London planetree is the most common tree throughout the 5 boroughs, making up 12% of the trees around the city. It is also the most common tree you’ll find in Queens (12% of trees) and Brooklyn (18% of trees). Known for having mottled brown, green, and gray bark that looks like peeling camouflage, this sycamore hybrid can be found lining the perimeter of Bryant Park lawn.

London planetrees at Bryant Park

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana)

This tree is the most common species in Staten Island, making up 19% of trees in the borough. They are easy to spot in the spring, presenting lovely white blossoms that when met with a breeze, float through the air like a snowfall. This tree is also known to emanate a musky smell, which some may describe as “fishy”.

Callery pear trees at Grand Army Plaza (Source:

Thornless Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos form inermis)

This tree makes up 21% of trees in Manhattan and 11% of those in the Bronx, making it the most common tree in both those boroughs. Look up when you’re strolling through Hudson River Park, and you’ll see yellow leaves in the fall, as well as brown pods that can grow from 6 to 16 inches in length!  

Honey locust at Hudson River Park (Source:

Urban forests are amazingly effective at helping reduce the risk of localized flooding during rain storms. Check out how Temboo has partnered with Gowanus Canal Conservancy to measure how different species of street trees help capture stormwater. If you or your organization are interested in collecting environmental data, please contact us to learn how Temboo can help you!