Historic New York City Trees Are Being Cloned

Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Division Manager of Bartlett Tree Experts David McMaster, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project Drew Becher, and 11th and 12th grade students from John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, to take cuttings from a European Beech tree in Central Park. This is the first of nine different tree species of historical and environmental significance throughout the five boroughs that will be cloned as part of an initiative to preserve and protect New York City’s historic trees, many of which are well over 100 years old and found in public parks and on streets. 

Over the next week, a team of arborists from Parks and Bartlett Tree Experts, a Stamford, Connecticut-based company, will take cuttings from a total of 25 trees throughout the five boroughs. These 12-inch cuttings, gathered from high in the treetops, will be shipped immediately in Coleman® coolers to Schichtel’s Nursery in Oregon. The nursery will then grow and care for the saplings to produce ten genetically identical clones of each original tree. Upon growing to two- to three-feet in height, the saplings will be replanted throughout New York City as part of Million Trees NYC, a PlaNYC initiative to plant one million trees throughout the five boroughs over the next ten years (www.milliontreesnyc.org).
“Central Park’s trees are world-renowned, and now some of the older denizens of the park will be getting a new lease on life through tree cloning,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to Bartlett Tree Experts and Schichtel’s Nursery, selected trees of historical and environmental significance in Central Park and selected parks throughout New York City will be preserved, cloned, and re-planted in public parks and streets as part of the City’s initiative to plant one million trees over the next ten years. Special thanks to New York Restoration Project for partnering on Million Trees NYC and for approaching us with this tree-cloning project.”
Throughout the cloning project, agriculture students at John Bowne High School will track the growing progress of the cloned New York City trees as part of a new curriculum on arboriculture. The Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (www.treefund.org) will fund this educational opportunity.
“This project is a special opportunity to preserve and commemorate the trees of Central Park while also providing a unique learning experience to the students at John Bowne,” said David McMaster, Division Manager, Bartlett Tree Experts. “Supporting arboricultural courses of study is vital to the continued advancement of our industry and we’re proud to encourage this learning.”
The tree that was cloned in Central Park today is a 100-year-old European Beech tree, a classic Victorian landscape tree believed to be imported from Europe to America during the colonization period. Originally an ornamental tree, the European Beech is now a tree that is fully-integrated into the City’s wild landscape. It provides nutritious beech nuts for squirrels as well as provides ample shade with its sweeping, majestic branches.
The event is sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts, The Coleman Company, Inc. (coolers and base camp operations), Marmot Mountain LLC (outdoor clothing and apparel), The Tree Research and Educational Endowment Fund, and David Milarch, co-founder of The Champion Tree Project International.
Million Trees NYC is a citywide, public-private initiative with an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the city’s five boroughs over the next decade. By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest – our most valuable environmental asset made up of street trees, park trees, and trees on public, private and commercial land – by an astounding 20%, while achieving the many quality-of-life benefits that come with planting trees.

Million Trees NYC—launched by the Parks Department and New York Restoration Project—is a collaboration of many partners, including community-based and non-profit groups; City, State, and Federal Agencies; corporations and small businesses; private property owners; and all New Yorkers.

For more information, contact:

Kenneth J. Karp

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