In making a choice the first thine; to be considered is the width of the street; also, the width of the sidewalk or nearness of the houses. Some trees, the Elm for instance, will injure the foundation walls of a house by the pressure from its far-spreading roots. Where the house stands near the curb, trees with a tap root are preferable.
I he following list includes all, or nearly all, the species which are desirable for street planting, most of which are quite common throughout New England and the Middle States. They are named in the order of their desirability, although in some instances their preferment is somewhat a matter of taste, concerning which any discussion would be a waste of time.
American or White
Hard or Sugar Maple.
White or Silver Maple.
Black or Yellow
In any attempt to secure a comprehensive variety it should be remembered that, including the conifers, there are over five hundred native species in the United States and Canada, and that there are over ninety in the Middle and New England States. Many of these are used in forestry work, but are not adapted to streets and highways; and many others are desirable for lawns or parks but nowhere else.
The Elm stands first on the list by right of its superior size, beauty, and adaptability to street planting. It is rapid in growth, withstands transplanting and pruning better than most other kinds, and will grow on almost any soil. Its habit is such that any pruning of the lower limbs is seldom necessary, a valuable feature in a street tree. It thrives not only on country roads and village streets, but also in our larger towns. New Haven has attained national tame as the " Elm City," on account of the many beautiful trees of this kind which line its streets. There are various forms of the American Elm. Emerson, in his 11 Trees of Massachusetts," describes three distinct shapes. The most desirable one for a shade tree is that with the umbrella-shaped top. and slender, pendant branches on its outer edge. In transplanting or in giving orders to a nursery, care should be taken to secure this particular form. The English and Scotch Elms have been planted extensively in some places; but as these species are inferior in appearance and much more liable to attack from insects their use should be discouraged. The English Elm retains its foliage longer each fall, but that is all that can be said in its favor ; in fact, all the species introduced from Europe hold their leaves when most of our native trees are bare.
The Hard Maple or Sugar Maple is so well and favorably known as a shade tree that it is unnecessary to dwell here upon its beauty and symmetrical proportions. It is seen at its best in village streets and along country roads, where the conditions are better suited to its fullest development. In the crowded streets of large towns this species, in some places, has been unable to withstand the effects of smoke, dust and other unfavorable conditions. But it can be planted with good results on streets where the houses stand on large lots, with plenty of ground or wide lawns around them. On city blocks, where the houses are in solid rows, preference should be given to the Norway Maple, a nursery tree which resembles the native Hard Maple closely, alt hough not so large. The Norway puts on its leaves earlier in Spring, and retains its verdure Liter in the fall. The varied and brilliant autumnal colors displayed by the leaves of our native Hard Maple make this species desirable for ornament as well as shade. No other tree combines so many shades of color in the fall -scarlet, orange, yellow, and green. These different hues may be seen on one tree, often on one branch, and sometimes on one leaf.
The Tulip Tree will compare favorably with the Hard Maple in height and beauty. In favored situations it attains a height of 125 feet or more, with a diameter of six to eight feet. It bears transplanting well, grows rapidly, is very hardy, and is free from destructive insects. The constant, tremulous motion ol its broad leaves gives it a lively, attractive appearance. The limbs of the mature trees are more or 1ess curved, producing a beautiful effect, which is heightened by the straight lines of the tall mast-like trunks. In the latter part of May it decks itself with terminal flowers of a dark, rich yellow, streaked with green and orange. The Tulip Tree cannot be transplanted successfully except when it is of a small size.
I he Basswood, or American Linden, commends itself to the lover of trees by its ample shade, fragrant flowers and bright green foliage, which in spring contrasts well with its dark colored branches. In the tall its leaves assume a rusty hue that detracts somewhat from its appearance then, especially as most of the other trees arc displaying their autumnal coloring at that time. In the excurrent character of the trunk and arrangement of its branches the Linden displays a graceful habit after the leaves have fallen, making it an attractive and desirable tree in winter. The curious, ribbon-like bract to which the pea-shaped seeds are attached makes it in early summer an interesting study to the passer-by. The Linden is extensively planted as a shade tree in Holland and some other European countries. In Berlin one of the principal avenues, Inter den Linden, takes its name from the trees that shade its walks and driveways. Botanists are apt to regard this tree with a peculiar interest, for the father of Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist, took his family name from a large, beautiful Linden, or Linn, that stood near his home.*
The Horse Chestnut is the earliest of our trees. Before the buds have opened on many of the others, and while the willows are showing only a " green mist the Horse Chestnut unfolds its cunningly packed leaflets to the sun, a welcome sight to those who are waiting and watching for spring. Its large leaves afford a shade more dense than that of any other tree. In parks and on lawns, where its growth is not restricted, this tree assumes a grand, massive appearance that always arrests the eye. In earl)' spring it is gay with large white and pink flowers whose erect panicles standing on the upturned tips of the branches are suggestive of a leafy candelabra, an effect that is heightened when one remembers the peculiar appearance in this respect of the tree in winter. In most families of plants, the order of opening in the flowers is either from the bottom upwards--or from the top downwards proceeding to open regularly up or down. Mr. Joseph Meehan observes that in the Horse Chestnut there are open flowers simultaneously on every portion of the thyrse or spike, so that the tree seems to be covered with flowers as if by magic in a growth of but a tew days.* Objection has been made to the Horse Chestnut because at times there is too much litter on the sidewalks under it. But if people sweep their sidewalks daily there need be no trouble from this source; and if they do not keep their walks clean they will neglect their trees also, in which case it is immaterial what species is planted. The question of insects is discussed later on. The Horse Chestnut, like the Ailanthus and Lombardy Poplar, is not indigenous to the United States, having been introduced here in 174^. In April of that year John Bartram, writing to Peter Collinson,f acknowledges the receipt of the seeds, of which he had hopes, as "some seemed to be pretty sound." Gen. Brisbin notes that the first tree is said to be still standing on the estate of Air. Lemuel Wells, Yonkers, N. Y.J; John Evelyn, in his famous Silva, written in 1662, says that the Horse Chestnut derived its name from the fact that the fruit was used for "curing broken-winded horses, and other cattle, of coughs." Hut the peculiar shape of the scar left on the twig by the fallen leaf, which resembles the track of a horse's hoof and imprint of the nails, is very suggestive when taken in connection with the translation of hippocastanum, its Greek or botanical name.
*Al that time many of the Swedes had Christian names only, and when they wanted a family name it was customary to adopt thai of some natural object in the vicinity Berg (hill), Strom (stream), etc.