Staff Picks

With more than 5,000 trees to choose from, how can you pick just one that truly stands out? We asked our staff to share their favorite tree in the Garden. From endangered species to spectacular specimens, scroll through to find out what makes these trees so special.


“Mine would be the American Chestnut growing in the English Woodland garden. The species has been hit hard by a fungal infection that kills most trees before they reach their full size of up to nine feet in diameter (they were sort of the redwoods of the east coast, once upon a time). Ours isn’t that big, but so far it seems to be going strong and is old enough to be dropping new seeds. Because they also sprout new suckers from the stumps of “dead” trees, and because of the conservation work and intervention people are putting in, it’s a story of hope. We could eventually expect the species to make a comeback. Which is worthwhile, because the economic benefit has been estimated at around $400,000.00 per tree.”

John Lawler, Education

Temp House Pine

“My favorite tree at the garden is the Taiwania cryptomerioides in the Temperate house. This uncommon tree is a beautiful conifer around 20 ft tall, with distinctive glaucous (blueish) leaves on branchlets that hang gracefully from the branches. The tree is threatened in Taiwan and southern Asia, where it is endemic. The tree highlights the mission of the garden, being both beautiful and charismatic, while also being wild collected, threatened (IUCN vulnerable), and scientifically interesting. It highlights that public gardens, nature,  beauty,  horticulture, Science, and conservation are not separate, but inherently linked and collaboration vital, which is why it is my favorite tree.”

Jared Chauncey, Horticulture

Childrens Garden Cypress

“I love trees so picking a favorite is difficult. One tree I really like is the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum var. distichum). We have several in the Children’s Garden, and there are lots of great stories and information we can share with our visitors about these trees. Unlike many conifers, the bald cypress is actually deciduous, dropping all of its foliage in the fall. I also like the root “knees” that typically form when these trees grow near or in water. The trees are also where a lot of different birds, like herons, gold finches, and barred owls, like to hang out.”

Jennifer Laquet, Interpretation

Japanese maple, Acer palmatumAcquisition Number: 760454-4
Photo by Tom Incrocci

“I have three:

  1. The Japanese Maple in the Japanese Garden.  It’s small, with exposed roots and lots of moss growing around it.  The mossy root structure is captivating!  It’s the one that EVERYONE loves!
  2. The giant Magnolia, just south of the maze.  It’s been pruned for years to create a magical canopy that feels like you’ve stepped into Fern Gully!
  3. A Ginkgo tree to the east of the Lehman Rose Garden.  You walk about halfway through the Rose Garden, turn east and it is approximately behind a small fountain statue.  The main trunk is split.  The tree invites one to nestle into the base of it and meditate or read a good book.  It embraces a person!”

Rachel Deffenbaugh, Therapeutic Horticulture

Celtis occidentalis

“One of my favorite trees at the Garden is the hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) at the southeast corner of the Lehmann Building. The bark has an interesting warty texture, and it has one large branch that swoops down to eye level. Aside from its unique appearance, I’m also fascinated that this species is in the same botanical family (Cannabaceae) as hops and hemp. There’s another really impressive hackberry just west of the Mausoleum Garden.”

Cassidy Moody, Communications

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