Look around you. Notice those big wooden things with leaves on them? Yes, trees. Know what kind you’re looking at? No? We asked South Salem-based arborist Doug Paulding of Eager Beaver Tree Service (914-764-7056) to tell us about the most common trees found in the county.
Typical Height: 75 feet
This very hard wood tree, with a shaggy bark that “sheds,” can live 200 years.
Typical Height: 30 feet
In Westchester, apple trees are primarily used for show, not for their fruit. Their flowers, clustered five-petal pink blossoms, are quite beautiful.
Typical Height: 80 feet
These cone-bearing trees are evergreens, keeping their leaves all year-round. Their wood is used for flooring, picnic tables, and a variety of wood products.
Typical Height: 100 feet
The county’s tallest tree is named for its leaves, which are shaped like big tulips. In spring, these trees, commonly found in the deep woods, sprout yellow flowers.
Typical Height: 85 feet
If you see thick bark that has irregularly shaped patches and looks mottled and scaly—like peeling wallpaper—odds are you’re looking at a sycamore, especially if that trunk is huge (eight feet in diameter). Sycamores, which need lots of water, are commonly found along riverbanks.
Typical Height: 50 feet
The pepperidge tree doubles as a home for squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and honeybees. Also known as tupelo, blackgum, or sourgum, the pepperidge, which in the fall displays fire-engine-red leaves, has limbs that deteriorate quickly, and its decayed holes make excellent dens for critters.
Typical Height: 100 feet
Oaks are hardy—they can tolerate most any growing condition—with roots that spread up to 50 feet. The oak’s fruit is really a nut, the acorn, which contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes six to 18 months to mature. It’s food for squirrels, pigeons, and jays.
Typical Height: 35 or 65 feet
Perhaps the most stunning cherry tree is the Kwanzan variety, which, come spring, is adorned with hundreds of pink or white flowers. The weeping cherry with its drooping branches is spectacular as well. The wild cherry tree is prized for its wood, which carpenters love to turn into kitchen cabinets.
Typical Height: 25 feet
The dogwood was originally called dagwood; its slender stems were once used for making dags or daggers. But its claim to fame nowadays is its gorgeous flowers. The American dogwood blooms early in spring while the Japanese dogwood blooms later, around June. The flowers may be pink, white, or yellow.
Typical Height: 60 feet
Birch trees are easy to spot—their trunks are thin and their barks are marked with lenticels, horizontal lines that function as pores. Black birches grow most anywhere and yellow birches, which are used to make furniture and cabinetry, have curly bark that peels off the trunk. White and river birches are often used ornamentally.
Typical Height: 60 to 75 feet
There are four main varieties of maples in Westchester: the silver maple (named for its silvery gray branches), the red maple, the Norway maple, and the sugar maple (a major source of sap for maple syrup). Come fall, maples’ leaves put on a stunning color show; the most brilliant show, however, is presented by the sugar maple.
Typical Height: 70 feet
Also known as the tamarack, these are deciduous cone-bearing trees whose cones are either green or purple. The needles turn yellow in the fall, and then drop. Larch wood, used for building yachts, small boats, and fences, is valued for its durability and waterproof qualities.