Visitors can take a walking tour of our champion trees at any time during regular business hours (9 to 5). Visitors should stop at the Guard Gate at the Retreat Avenue entrance where they can obtain a self-guided walking tour map or download a map here.
Other Notable Trees
Although this is one of the smaller trees on the Institute campus, it is rare enough to deserve attention. Native to our midwest, it has twice compound leaves with 6 to 14 leaflets per stem. It is distinguished by furrowed bark, crooked branches, and a big brown seed pod (female trees). The seeds were once used as a coffee substitute.
EUROPEAN CUTLEAF BEECH
(Fagus sylvatica 'Laciniata')
This natural mutation of the standard European beech has the same smooth gray bark as the species, but its leaves are deeply incised. Its companion specimen is only slightly smaller.
Native to our midwest, the cucumber magnolia has large leaves which appear before the greenish flowers. The dark red fruit somewhat resembles a cucumber. This large specimen, probably dating to Olmsted, has cropped branches, and is approaching the end of its life.
Native to Japan and China, this relatively small specimen has heart-shaped leaves, small fruit pods, and shaggy bark. Two katsuras are located within 10 feet of each other.
(UImus glabra 'Camperdownii')
This mushroom-shaped tree is a natural mutation of the wych elm which was discovered around 1850 at Camperdown House, Dundee, Scotland. Our tree is a medium sized specimen. A graft can be found at about 5 feet.
This handsome tree is native as far north as Massachusetts, but it is basically a tree of southeastern USA. One of the few broadleaved evergreen trees, it produces bright red berries (female trees). There are literally hundreds of nursery varieties.
The tallest of native broadleaved trees, the tulip is a majestic sight with its long, straight, limbless trunk. Its leaves are unusual... instead of ending in a point, they end in a broad indentation. Because tuliptrees are so tall, the lovely green and orange flowers are infrequently seen.
Most people know our native sassafras as a small tree. Only very occasionally is one as large as this found. The bark is deeply furrowed. On this old tree the leaves are mainly elliptical, but on younger trees many leaves look like 2- or 3 -lobed mittens. The aromatic root bark has been used medicinally for centuries.
This large specimen, probably Olmstedian, has compound leaves with 9 to 21 leaflets. The fruit is a two-inch nut with a green husk. The wood is highly prized and very expensive. Native to midwest USA.
A Eurasian tree, the turkey oak is fairly rare in Connecticut. Acorns are large, with bristly cups. Leaves remain green into late fall. Bark is black and rough.
(Magnolia x soulangiana)
A hybrid first produced in 1820, this tree has become the most popular of magnolias. Known for its profusion of large pink and white blossoms, it subsequently has red, cone-like fruit.
Native to Europe, this tree has been cultivated in America since the mid 18th century, and is now naturalized here. Leaves are compound, with 7 leaflets. Flowers are huge white cones. The shiny brown, inedible nuts are encased in a spiny husk.
(Tilia x euchlora)
This hybrid was first noted in Crimea around 1860. Old trees are fairly rare in America, but plantings have been common since the 1980's. Our trees (we have two of them) were likely planted in the late 19th century.
The pin oak, a native tree, tends to grow near water. Nursery owners love it, because its lack of tap root makes it the easiest oak to transplant. Its leaves are fine and deeply cut, and often color well in autumn. Its acorn is very small. Our big specimen may well be from the 1861 plan.
The yellow buckeye, a Midwestern native, is not common in Connecticut. Our tree is the second largest reported in the state. Its leaves are similar to the common horsechestnut, but much more elliptical. It bears big clusters of yellow flowers. The nut is like the horsechestnut, but the tan husk has no spines. Probably planted around the turn of the century.
The scarlet oak is native to Connecticut. It is often seen in park-like settings as often as some other oaks because it is difficult to transplant. The glorious deep red fall foliage makes the effort worthwhile, however. Our tree is one of the state's larger specimens, and was probably planted early in the 20th century.
JAPANESE TREE LILAC
This species first came to the USA in 1876. Our specimen is probably an early 20th century planting. It has cherrylike bark and big clusters of creamy flowers which bloom somewhat later than the common lilac. Not a common tree, but becoming more popular.
PLUME SAWARA CYPRESS
(Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Plumosa')
This double-trunked specimen is the largest of four similar trees in the immediate area. A frequently planted variety of C. pisif era, this Japanese tree was introduced to England in 1861, making it highly unlikely that it was in the Olmsted planting. The branchlets are somewhat feathery, the trunk red-brown, and the numerous cones pea sized.