Herbivores of the Cretaceous period enjoyed lunching on the early ancestors of many plants and trees that we know and love today. Magnolia, for example, is a genus that dates back to the dinosaur days, along with ginkgos, conifers and palms. While great snacks for dinosaurs, PHS does not recommend eating magnolias for the rest of us. Nevertheless, let’s celebrate some stunners this spring that would have surely appealed to the Pleurocoelus.
We spoke with our very own tree expert, PHS’s Mindy Maslin, Education Project Manager and Tree Tender extraordinaire. Here are her top picks for must-admire trees around Philadelphia:
Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellate)
This early bloomer in Philadelphia has large, white, star-shaped fragrant flowers. Spot these along Kelly Drive and near Lloyd Hall. After the blooms fall off, we can enjoy glossy, green leaves that make this a great tree throughout the seasons. Be on the lookout for their interesting-looking seed pods later this year.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
Usually one of the earliest spring trees to bloom in this area, and the name can be misleading. The blooms on this tree have a purple hue and do not necessarily reveal a “redbud.” Once the blooms fade away, they expose beautiful heart-shaped leaves. A nice display of Eastern Redbud can be found along Market Street near 11th street.
Flowering Cherry Trees
A traditional favorite among the “first signs of spring,” with their pop of vibrant pinks. Remember, names can be misleading. These are ornamental trees and don’t bear edible fruit. When the petals fall to the ground in profusion, they can create a flowery carpet of pink in the streets and sidewalks along Kelly Drive and into Fairmount Park. Special note: One of Mindy’s favorites is the Kwanzan Cherry Tree with its double blossom.
Fun Fact: What’s going on with my Oak tree?
While everything else is budding out in springtime, oak and beech trees are still holding their leaves from last fall. Don’t despair, they will leaf out later in the season and old leaves help protect the emerging leaf buds. At this point in the season, the leaf buds are expanding and they are pushing out the old leaf and springing into the new season. With the help of rain and wind, the old leaves will soon fall off.
PHS Tree Resources:
Free Tree Giveaway
Register today to receive a free tree, courtesy of a partnership between the Phillies and PHS. Tree pickup will be held Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. Learn more and register here.
The PHS Tree Tenders program, part of the Plant One Million campaign, teaches the basics of tree planting, tree care, and how to rally communities around the importance of trees. It also provides street trees for community plantings twice a year. The class is offered several times throughout the year in Center City Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. The Montgomery County three-part class meets May 5, 12 and 19. The Philadelphia three-part class meets on May 13, 20 and 27.
Make Your Tree Count
Visit PlantOneMillion.org to register your tree and make it count toward our goal of one million trees throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.
Stop by PHS Meadowbrook Farm in Abington Township to purchase a spring blooming tree such as Magnolias, Chinese and Eastern Redbud, the PHS Gold Medal Fothergilla and many more. Speak with a Meadowbrook expert to determine the right tree for your yard.