Skip to main content.

Read about Rochester’s most beloved trees and share your own story

Fellowship Story Showcase

Read about Rochester’s most beloved trees and share your own story

Picture of Justin Murphy
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Democrat and Chronicle
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

When people talk about their favorite trees, they're usually talking about rootedness.

That is, belonging somewhere. Being home in the place where you and your people feel at best. Having a way marker or a commemoration. 

For one woman, those cherished roots belong to a fir tree on Mount Vernon Street, on the northern boundary of Highland Park. Her three boys knew it as "the climbing tree" when they were young, then as a popular stop on family Christmas-time scavenger hunts when they got a little older.

"When my mother died, friends gathered a donation for Highland Conservatory to dedicate (it in) her name," the woman wrote to me. "The plaque has long since disappeared but the tree remains."

More than 100 people responded to my call a few months ago for their favorite tree in Rochester, a project I'm calling Tree Stories. Those responses are presented below, organized by city quadrant with Highland Park in its own category.

It's not too late to add your favorite tree, by the way. Fill out the form here.

Described below are trees to climb on, to eat from and to cry under. Many of the trees exist only as memories, including one a man named Oliver Wendell Holmes ("Yeah, for real") described that used to stand off Joseph Avenue.

Many of the entries sounded to me like poems. Holmes' was one of them.

There’s one, but it’s not there anymore.

It fell during an ice storm.

The whole house shook; we thought it was an earthquake.

Everyone used to go in the backyard and

sit up underneath it.

When it was hot out, it was that nice cool shade.

That’s back when my mother was alive.


There's also one tree listed that doesn't exist yet. It will be planted one day outside Candice Cabral's house in the JOSANA neighborhood, and it will be in memory of her children's uncle, Walter Ross, who was shot and killed in 2016. 

"He was so good to our community and to my kids," she said. "He gave Easter baskets to everyone in the community; he was a mentor to my kids and to other kids. ... I just want something to point to and remember him."

Almost every anecdote involved the sense of touch: oozing sap, rough bark, the cool of the shade. An exception is the tree described by Robert Cashimere, who fishes nearly every weekend in the Genesee River.

He kept getting his lures snagged at a certain place in the river, a problem that became both time-consuming and expensive. Then he noticed a distinctive tree with one dead limb looming over the water at that very spot.

One storyteller grew up with 14 siblings on Troup St. The man's father planted a tree in the front yard for the family to play around. JUSTIN MURPHY

"I’d always know to lift my rod high above my head when I got to that branch," he said. "Year after year I’d keep fishing the river and stay away from that snag thanks to that one limb marking the hazard."

Several trees earned multiple mentions, including the "Tree of Life" spanning the bicycle path at Genesee Valley Park just south of Elmwood Avenue and the magnolia trees on Oxford Street.

The most named tree is the massive and unusual katsura tree in Highland Park near Highland Avenue and Goodman Street.

When Elizabeth Dugdale and her sister found themselves thrust into the role of stay-at-home parents to their young children during the pandemic, Highland Park became a regular field trip, with the katsura tree the most common classroom.

"I told the boys: 'A million fairies live here. There’s no doubt all these other spirits are here – how could they not be?' And they just loved it," she said. "It’s a very legitimate silver lining (to COVID) – that time was awful, but I’m so happy that experience opened up that opportunity to really got to know the environment and geography in a much more personal way."

Perhaps my favorite entry came from a man named Michael who grew up with 14 siblings on Troup Street. His father planted a tree in the front yard to play around.

Then urban renewal came. The house came down, but the tree was spared. Now it stands in Troup Street Park.

"Once in awhile I pass that area and see the tree," Michael wrote. "It does bring back many memories."

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did. 

Explore the trees


The northeast quadrant is the least tree-covered section of Rochester, but that didn't stop people from naming many specific favorites.

I collected many of these stories at a table inside the Ryan and Lincoln branch libraries, on Webster and Joseph avenues, respectively. 

TOP: Browncroft Rose Garden: "I named her Esmerelda, which was the most beautiful and sophisticated name I could think of, and loved spending time just sitting underneath her," Maggie Levine said. BOTTOM LEFT: Ryan branch library: "It’s perfectly proportioned – like when a kid draws a tree, and the proportions, that’s what it looks like," Rocky said. MIDDLE: Lincoln Branch Library: "I’m used to seeing it – it’s a special thing when you see something consistently so you can get attached to it," Cormel said. RIGHT: Covenant United Methodist Church: "It is HUGE! It would take 4 or 5 people linking hands to wrap around it," Shane Wiegand said.JUSTIN MURPHY

Christyn Sanagursky: “There was a huge chestnut tree in front of my grandparents house on Durnan Street. Every fall when it dropped chestnuts grandma sent me outside to pick them up in a basket. Great way to keep a little kid busy!” View on map

Cormel: “Right outside the Lincoln library. I’m used to seeing it – it’s a special thing when you see something consistently so you can get attached to it.” View on map

Dan Connolly: “157 Westchester Ave. There are these two huge pine trees that stand beautifully in the front yard of my neighbor's lawn that I love to watch sway when it's stormy in the summer and collect snow in the winter. They are so tall that I like to hypothetically ask guests when we sit on the porch that, if one of them fell, do they think it would reach our house? Always leads to interesting conversation. I'm also a fairly new Rochester transplant. There are so many beautiful trees here, but the sheer amount of pine trees in this area is pretty amazing to me, and I'm only from New Jersey! To have two giant, full ones right here on my city street is so neat to me.” View on map

Fubu: “I asked the city to plant a tree in the front of my house on Ave. D. The tree has since been taken down however I remember something chasing a cat and it ran up the tree and jumped onto my roof by my window. I watched the cat swallow a mouse in his mouth whole, wait for the predator to go away, and go about his business.” View on map

Gregg Starks: “67 Minnesota Street. Because after losing a beautiful Maple to sidewalk contractors damaging the roots, it took me 7 years to convince the city to allow an Amur Maackia tree to be planted as a replacement. I wanted a Magnolia like what I grew up with in the Dorchester Rd area, but, they don't allow them anymore due to liability issues. This was the only tree I could find that flowers in the SUMMER producing grape like clusters of wonderful smelling flowers. It's unlike most trees that flower in Spring or Fall.” View on map

Howard D: “On Watkin Terrace in front of my Grandmother's century-old two-family home off Hudson Ave. As children my Dad, Aunt and two Uncles gazed at this tree from their front porch. My grandmother is long gone as are they, but the house and tree are still there, Some other families have lived there for many years .Yet looking at it still brings back fond memories of my childhood and sleepovers at Grandma's. From generation to generation we are the memory keepers now.” View on map

Jacob Hall: “The lady in white tree located inside Durand Eastman Park. I took a podcasting history course at the University of Rochester where my two friends and I produced an episode of Hear UR on the infamous lady in white tale. This tree is a reminder of the joyous time I had investigating the local the ghost story.” View on map

Jazmine: “It’s the one in front of my grandma’s house. I can climb all the way to the tippy top. I climbed that tree for years.” View on map

Julia: “We’ve got this giant maple tree in our backyard that I love. It’s huge and it shades half our yard. It’s kind of hollow on the inside with the leaves on the outside so you can almost hide in the canopy. We’ve got swings hanging from it, a ladder.” View on map

Leilah: “It's a big willow tree in my backyard and the kids love to go under it and play and hang out, play games. It’s like their little secret area.” View on map

Maggie Levine: “As you face the park from Merchant Road, the third tree from the right was my special tree, back in the late 90s. I named her Esmerelda, which was the most beautiful and sophisticated name I could think of, and loved spending time just sitting underneath her.” View on map

Mark Parrotte: “The linden trees on Mildorf Street between Merchants and Farmington. Not only are they majestic, they exert a sweet fragrant which permeates the neighborhood in the hot summer months. a comforting sense. i grew up in that neighborhood and i still drive through it in summer just to sniff the nostalgia.” View on map

Mary Feasel: “The maple trees on winstead Rd were so beautiful when I was growing up. You could stand in the street and look in either direction and the trees met in a perfect canopy. The tree in front of our house, half way down the street was the most perfectly formed of them all. I used to draw it from the front step, just because it was so symmetrical. They are all gone now. The city cut them down for one reason or another, and replaced them with other trees that they just planted anywhere near the street. The old ones were all perfectly centered.” View on map

n/a: “By Portland and Norton. I think it’s a pine tree. I lived there forever and it used to be in front of my house. It was super huge. Biggest tree on the block. It was cool.” View on map

n/a: “At my house on Denver Street. We actually planted it when we first moved there in 1980. It started from a little baby and now it’s grown to something serious.” View on map

N/A: “The North Winton Village sign at Atlantic and Culver needed some kind of design on the front. The homeowners assosiations wife begged to put a tree on the front. Across the street is a big tree that is mirrored onto this sign now. Everytime i drive by i think "Hey i know that tree"” View on map

Oliver Wendell Holmes: “There’s one on Hudson Avenue, but it’s not there anymore. It fell during an ice storm. The whole house shook; we thought it was an earthquake. Everyone used to go in the backyard and sit up underneath it. When it was hot out, it was that nice cool shade. That’s back when my mother was alive. Kids used to come around, play games, play cards, do Easter egg hunts.” View on map

PL: “It's over on Dale Street off Joseph. It’s actually two of them, and if you look up at the top part they go together and it looks kind of like a heart shape” View on map

Reenah Golden: “It's across from School 8 on St Paul Street. I was a teaching artist, and when I had a break I'd go sit outside with my water and just sit and watch that tree. It's humongous and just so beautiful.” View on map

Rocky: “Outside the Ryan branch library at School 33. It’s perfectly proportioned – like when a kid draws a tree, and the proportions, that’s what it looks like. I love the red leaves on it come the fall. When it’s full-blown, it’s gorgeous.” View on map

Rozilia: “There’s a tree on Hudson right in front of the fire department – it’s got this milky sap that you can eat. It’s a really nice tree. I actually eat that tree.” View on map

Shane Wiegand: “In front of Covenant United Methodist Church. It is HUGE! It would take 4 or 5 people linking hands to wrap around it. I drive by it almost every day and my eye is always drawn to it.The roots burst out of the ground and invite you to sit on them. I enjoy having our Beechwood Neighborhood Picnic underneath the trees shade every summer.” View on map


The northwest quadrant provides a wonderful cross-section of the city as a whole: magnificent parks and parkways, including Maplewood Park, alongside industrial, lightly planted areas.

Many of the neighborhoods in the northwest have undergone major demographic changes over the last 75 years. Here as elsewhere, trees sometimes can serve as a historical clue to where the city has invested, or not, over the years.


LEFT: Seneca Parkway: "The oak trees in this Olmsted designed park are 150-200 years old. Gorgeous, historic, majestic, giants," Sara Scott said. MIDDLE: Church of the Ascension: "It's big, and it's old. It's a beautiful tree that is always featured prominently whenever someone draws or paints a picture of the Church of the Ascension. It's part of the building to me," Ryan said. RIGHT: Purple beech, 331 Glenwood Ave.: "We used to have picnics under the tree. My sisters and brother would climb it ... but I was afraid," Angela Scott said.JUSTIN MURPHY

Angela Brown: “It was outside where my mother lives, but they chopped it down. We all used to hang out and have family gatherings and cookouts. … When they chopped it down it messed everything up. They said they cut it down because of all the squirrels. I said, how dumb do you think we are? Now we have to rent tents and everything, but it’s not the same. It was a really nice tree – it wasn’t the point branches were falling or anything. I just don’t understand why they chopped it down. It was nice and cool and shady – it was like being at a park without having to go to the park. Now she’s thinking about moving just because the tree’s gone. She said that was one of the main reasons I moved over there was because of that tree. … Every summer she looks out and she wants to go out but she doesn’t want to be hot. And she sees this big empty space now, and she gets depressed.” View on map

Angela Scott: “My favorite tree is the Purple Beech at the corner of 331 Glenwood Ave and Dewey Ave. As a child I remember trying to get my arms around the tree and couldn't quite make it. The tree is much bigger and it's branches reach out to Dewey Ave ... probably is hit regularly by the RTS. We used to have picnics under the tree. My sisters and brother would climb it ... but I was afraid.” View on map

Candace Cabral: “Philosopher family will be great to have a family tree for my kids and myself” View on map

EM: “I grew up in Rochester on Knickerbocker Ave (near Ridgeway and Dewey). Between the sidewalk and the curb, there was a tree with very long branches and large leaves. On rainy days, when the rain stopped, by brothers and sisters and I would run outside to this tree. We would jump up and pull back the longest branch we could reach and then quickly let it go. The result, a drenching "rain" that would soak anyone under the chosen branch!! It was a lot of fun and I like to think I was the best "rain maker" but perhaps I had a knack for selecting a long, leaf laden branch and drenching the loudest people?!?” View on map

Jack ODonnell: “88 Dohrcrest Dr. It's kind of cool having a redwood tree ( metasequoia ) which was thought to be extinct until a small stand of them were discovered in Hubei province China around 1947. Not particularly pretty, but unusual and the only deciduous redwood. It has fine feathery leaves of a pretty light green. There are three of four in the Monroe county arboretum at Durand Eastman Park. They generally grow to about 175' tall at maturity - not as tall as the California redwoods, but still taller than any other trees in upstate N.Y. Mine is not there yet.” View on map

John Oster: “The tree is a very large willow located between the Coast Guard station and the pier on the east side of the mouth of the Genesee River. I grew up in Charlotte and on the water, have been looking at that tree my whole life. It has always been there, like the Coast Guard, reassuring boaters, fishermen, residents, and visitors alike. It is quite memorable, although now past its prime and ready for a successor.” View on map

Marisol Ramos-Lopez: “Western Boulevard Parkway. My tree of peace and strength is over 100 years old and has a formation near the base that resembles a face. When I look at it, I see my great-grandmother, who lived to be 99, and feel her spirit. In moments of anxiety and turmoil, I sit in my rocking chair and am comforted by the strength and stealth of this tree. It is a focus point for my meditation and brings me great calm.” View on map

n/a: “On Bryan Street near School 7. It was one of those big pine trees at the house where I grew up. They took it down a long time ago. But it reminded me of the Christmas tree at Times Square . Whoever planted it, it was a long time ago. … Do you believe in hugging trees? I’m going to start doing that. It’s good for, you know, your heart, they say. A lot of these people need to start hugging trees if you ask me.” View on map

Robert Cashimere: “I fish The Genesee River quite often and at one location across from Seth Green Island I kept getting my lures snagged and lost i began to realize that this was getting expensive and I needed a solution. I spotted a lovely tree overhanging the water that had a bare limb pointing out the taker of lures. I still use this landmark to save lures, money and fishing trips. Thanks to you old river tree.” View on map

Ryan: “It's big, and it's old. It's a beautiful tree that is always featured prominently whenever someone draws or paints a picture of the Church of the Ascension. It's part of the building to me. Very peaceful on a nice summer day.” View on map

Sara Scott -Director of Recreation & Parks Stewardship: “Seneca Park. The oak trees along in this Olmsted designed park are 150-200 years old. Gorgeous, historic, majestic, giants.” View on map


Between the 19th Ward and Genesee Valley Park, southwest Rochester has some of the most impressive tree cover in the city.

At the same time, it is the smallest quadrant by area, meaning its overall tally of trees is lower.

LEFT: Children's School of Rochester: "During times when I wanted to get out of the house and go somewhere to think, I would go to this large tree and sit underneath it. ... I am reminded of this regularly from the logo on my Kindle of a boy sitting under a tree and reading," Arnold Goldberg said. RIGHT: Rodenbeck Place: "I had always seen old photos of the many streets in Rochester lined with elm trees, but had never been able to understand the awe-inspiring beauty of a sylvan cathedral like that on Rodenbeck Place," Chris Brandt said.JUSTIN MURPHY

Tree Stories: Roslyn Street. "It’s particularly impressive when it’s blooming in the summertime," KP said. JUSTIN MURPHY

Ethel: “On Arnett Boulevard. It’s just a regular oak tree but I love everything about it. The color, the way it grows, the way it looks.” View on map

KP: “My favorite is a mimosa tree in the front yard at 224 Roslyn Street in the 19th Ward. It’s particularly impressive when it’s blooming in the summertime.” View on map

Michael F: “When I was a young boy. My father planted a tree on our yard at 248 Troup St. in the inner city. For many years my family lived at that location where many of my 14 siblings were brought up. Until the mid 60s when urban renewal came through and removed the house. The tree was not removed and over 70 years later the tree is still there. Once and awhile I pass that area and see the tree and it does bring back many memories.” View on map


The southeast quadrant has gotten disproportionate attention over the city's history when it comes to trees. East Avenue, Mount Hope Cemetery and the Highland Park and Park Avenue neighborhoods are all must-see attractions on a Rochester tree tour.

LEFT: Copper beech at Mount Hope Cemetery: "We were looking at the gravestones and admiring the scenery, when we looked up and saw such glowing beauty, at a height we could not see the top of," Jan and Mike Towsley wrote. MIDDLE: Weeping beech at Mount Hope Cemetery: "You don't see a lot of them around. It's just a magnificent tree in my mind; it's one that, whenever I'm in Mount Hope, I at least take a drive by to see," Brian Liberti said. RIGHT: 1600 East Ave.: "I used to live in this building and the enormous tree out front was just outside our window. In the early morning it would become laden with what seemed like hundreds of squawking crows that were roosting in the city," Jen Lunsford said.JUSTIN MURPHY

Aaron: “It is a dead tree that is split across the river path as you leave Genesee Valley Park heading north. Every family bike ride from the time the kids were in a trailer to now when they are in high school included a stop at that tree. They would climb it and each year got a bit more daring. We have used it as a midway point where we would drink, sometimes eat lunch, or just rest. I am not sure when it fell but am so glad that it has yet to be removed and has been left as a natural type of sculpture.” View on map

Adam Gillan: “Cobbs Hill, past the city skyline view on the outer ring, across from the facilities building. We've received an immense amount of support from family and friends when our daughter Maisie died tragically in 2019 (Dave Andreatta and Max Schulte helped share her story). My wife had a running group band together and dedicate "Maisie's Maple" along a favorite running route. Every year the group holds an informal event named "Maisie's Miles" to come together and honor our daughter. We take first/last day of school pictures there and visit probably as often as we do the cemetery. Family and friends also use it as a place to stop and reflect on our daughter.” View on map

Adrian Martin: “Moore Rd in Genesee Valley Park; the tree that fell and is split in two parts on either side of the bike path, right near Elmwood Ave. Whenever I bike with my kids along the river path, we always stop at this tree for them to climb on it and eat snacks.” View on map

Arnold Goldberg: “Next to the open space at #1 School is a grove of trees. At the top right of the grove is the largest tree that served as a prop in many of the games we played. During times when I wanted to get out of the house and go somewhere to think, I would go to this large tree and sit underneath it. I did this numerous times even during my high school years. I am reminded of this regularly from the logo on my Kindle of a boy sitting under a tree and reading.” View on map

Beverly Gold: “Our front lawn, on Berkeley Street near Harvard. We planted a Red Leaf Maple about a year after the infamous Ice Storm, after the City took down two trees, one in front of our house, the other next door. It was a Mother's Day present to me from my husband and was about my height, it's now about 1 1/2 stories high. The leaves are a lovely red, in Fall they turn an absolutely beautiful color, makes me happy to look at it! My favorite memories are watching my grandchildren climb the tree and just hang out. On occasion, my granddaughter would sit on a limb and read a book. Makes me smile to think about those times.” View on map

Brian Liberti: “The first tree for me that comes to mind is a weeping beech tree located in Mount Hope Cemetery. It's in the north section, kind of over by the maintenance barn. You don't see a lot of them around. It's just a magnificent tree in my mind; it's one that, whenever I'm in Mount Hope, I at least take a drive by to see.” View on map

Chris Brandt: “Walking up to Rodenbeck Place with friends several years ago, I was frozen in my tracks just looking up. I had always seen old photos of the many streets in Rochester lined with elm trees, but had never been able to understand the awe-inspiring beauty of a sylvan cathedral like that on Rodenbeck Place. Every chance I get I encourage people to go there and walk the small dead end street.” View on map

Chris Widmaier: “I think the enormous multi stemmed ash tree in front of my house has been here as long as the house has, which was built in 1890. It is a magnificent tree that shades our home in the summer, carpets everything with vibrant yellow leaves early in the fall, houses wildlife through the winter, and sways dramatically in the spring winds. It brings us peace and joy every day.” View on map

Chuck Crandall: “The Oxford Street Mall did, and still has, a long stretch of beautiful Magnolia trees of various varieties growing in the center strip. As a third generation Horticulturalist, my Grandfather, then my Father, and then myself cared for these trees for many decades in the past. Pure sign of Spring every year with their beautiful flowers and fragrances.” View on map

Dave Murphy: “In the backyard at our family's first house at 52 Highland Ave. It was a huge cherry tree in the back yard. The birds and animals shared the fruit with us, my mother-in-law climbed its lower branches to compete with the birds, and we connected a cable lead to it so our dog could go out and run the length of the yard. I remember the tree sap covering and anchoring the bolt. It gave good shade and more cherries than we could eat, and although what fell on the ground made kind of a mess, to me it was somehow a quiet friend who watched over the back of our family's first house. That was 40 years ago. Good tree.” View on map

Eric Garcia McKinley: “I'm a transplant to Rochester and one of the first things I do when moving to a new place is find a nice walk for me and my dog. Early on, I found a loop in Mount Hope Cemetery to be that place. There are plenty of beautiful trees there, but the beech tree stands out. It's different from the others: The leaves are on a different life cycle than the surrounding trees; it has smooth bark; it's massive. It's been an anchor of beauty for me ever since moving to Rochester.” View on map

Gerorge Conboy: “Rodenbeck Place. It's not just one tree, it's an unusual streetscape populated exclusively by huge sycamores. Beautiful tall mature sycamores line nearly this entire small street that ends at 490. It's dramatic when you're on the ground, and easily visible from 490 when you know where to look.” View on map

J. Galiley: “The ginkgo biloba at the Ellwanger and Barry Building, 668 Mt. Hope ave. A large and beautiful specimen left over from the original tree nursery in the area.” View on map

Jan and Mike Towsley: “There is a very large Copper Beech, in Mt Hope Cemetery, that took our breath away one May tour visit. It is located near the Stone building at the northern entrance to the cemetery off Mt Hope Ave (Ravine Ave). We were looking at the grave stones and admiring the scenery, when we looked up, to see such glowing beauty, at a height we could not see the top of. Now, each time we drive by, we look to see how the tree is doing, and recall that is visible from Mt Hope Ave.” View on map

Jason: “Rodenbeck Place. This tiny street in Swillburg, named after a former mayor (I believe), is graced with mature sycamore trees on either side. They form a graceful canopy enclosing the street and creating the sense of being in an outdoor room. It's incredibly charming and gives a glimpse of what so many streets looked like before Dutch Elm Disease killed off American elms.” View on map

Jen Casasanta: “The historic Copper Beach in the old section of Mt. Hope Cemetery. I am a hobbyist landscape photographer and I love to photograph this tree in every season and see how it changes. It's big and always gives me such a sense of awe and peace when I am under it.” View on map

Jen Lunsford: “In front of the apartments at 1600 East Ave. I used to live in this building and the enormous tree out front was just outside our window. In the early morning it would become laden with what seemed like hundreds of squawking crows that were roosting in the city. The limbs would become heavy with them. I think of those crows weighing down the branches whenever I drive past.” View on map

Jennifer Becker: “617 Linden Ave. We had three spruce trees right in front of our porch when we bought this house 28 years ago. They grew to be too big for that space and we made the sad decision to remove them. Then we asked the city if they could plant a tree in the space between our sidewalk and the road. It was a long process...a year or more wait. When they finally planted it, the timing was right as my father-in-law was at the end of his life in a hospice home. This was very fitting as he had planted many trees in his life and spent time as caretaker of Beaver Meadow Nature Center south of Buffalo. We had a small plaque made for the new little tree: "In Loving Memory of Carmon Frederick Becker 8/1/1935 - 4/18/2019."” View on map

Katie: “The tree on the front lawn of the George Eastman Museum, near the driveway. I'm obsessed with the arm of the tree that sits on the ground but its branches grow in an upward direction. I've been visiting the eastman museum since i was a child. i also worked there for four years after college and would drive or walk by this tree every day.” View on map

Keela Suttles: “I used to live over by East High School on Bowman Street, and it was just this one skinny tree but all the branches were right there so all of us could climb on it really easy. That was the only tree around.” View on map

Lisa McNamara: “The Ellwanger Garden pear - one glance connects centuries to me” View on map

Mackenzie: “It’s in front of my neighbor’s house on Mayberry Street. It’s like a palm tree but it’s not a palm tree. I like the leaves because I can tickle my sister with it. I’ve done so many pranks with that tree. And prints too. I make like tattoos of the leaves on my arm.” View on map

Malik Evans: “There’s a tree, but I don’t like giving it because it’s a secret spot. I’ve been going to it for probably 35 years. If you go to School 12, there’s the baseball field where kids play T-ball and baseball, and if you go up that hill there’s a bunch of big trees. And there’s one tree that’s been there for probably hundreds of years, that when I wanted to get away – and even as a grownup, when my mom died, anything – I’d park my car and go up under that tree. I’ve taken my kids under that tree, if we’re playing football or T-ball and it’s really hot, we’ll go stand under that tree. It’s a huge tree. It’s been there forever. I’ve been going to that tree since I was in first grade. It’s a great getaway spot. Because you can still see what’s going on but you’re away from everything and no one knows you’re there.” View on map

Michael Chen: “A few years ago, there was a home-based childcare in one of the houses on my street, Mulberry Street. Every year (no longer recall the particular month), the teacher and a line of kids would knock on my door and ask if they could collect sap from (maple?) tree right outside my house. It brought me joy watching them huddled around the tree learning about how that process works. Fast forward a few more years when I became a father, my children have come to love raking fallen leaves into a big pile and jumping into them. The trees on my street are really beautiful, especially in the fall, and these are the wonderful memories that I have to come to associate with them.” View on map

Mitch Gruber: “The Tree of Life at Genesee Valley Park. I remember this tree as a youngster from riding my bike in GVP because it is giant! But it became particularly meaningful to me when I began graduate school at the U of R and started walking in the park almost every day. Then, it split in half in a storm! It was sad for so many members of the community who spent lots of time in GVP. Over time, though, the split tree became a new defining characteristic of the park! This particular example shows the resilience and adaptiveness of trees.” View on map

NW: “It's in front of my kids’ father's house on Hampden Road. He just passed away. We lost him in February. That was his favorite tree, and now it’s my favorite tree. I’m pretty sure it’s a maple, because sometimes we’d see sap coming out of it. He raised three families in that house. Worked at Xerox for 40 years – he did his job.” View on map

Penny Sterling: “On Benton Street near Pappert Place. I was taking a walk last April on a sunny day near sunset, and the light was making everything look sharp and vibrant, so I started taking pictures of the plants and trees with my phone. I took some of the tree pics pointing up at the sky, and I noticed that someone had affixed wooden sculptures of eyeglasses, and a bushy mustache and tongue on a trunk a few feet over my head. They were weather-worn, and I had never seen them there before I saw them in the frame of the picture I just took. I wondered now long they had been there, and how many times I had walked past them unnoticed, and I laughed in delight. Upon further examination of the picture, I realized that the glasses were pince-nez, perched low on the nose, and under the mustache was a tongue, and the sculpture could be perceived as being of a lascivious nature. Which made me laugh even harder.” View on map

Rishad: “Right by Richard Street and Wilcox Street. This tree is meaningful to me because it’s in front of my childhood house where I have a lot of great memories. Many of those memories include this tree from crashing into it learning how to ride a bike or trying to climb up it running from a dog. This tree will always be special” View on map

Suzanne S: “34 S. Goodman St. That tree brought me everything I love about NY. I watched it go through the seasons. I took pics of that tree when it was full bloom lilacs on my way to the Kentucky derby parties with my hat on. That tree was a mini version of the tree that my parents had next to our driveway growing up. One of my favorite memories of that tree was when the squirrel was not afraid of me and would hang out on it with a nut in his mouth. I videoed it, to be so close to wildlife. My other favorite memory was just staying parked and listening to the birds sing while I was literally feet away. It was always great energy.” View on map

Victoria Robertson: “It is the Spruce tree that holds our tree house, 1056 South Ave. Our kids and our neighbors' kids played in that tree house. We sit up there and watch the world go by or sit on the porch and watch people try to figure out how to get into the tree house. It drips sap, and drops needles in the yard, and some day may fall on the house, but we love it.” View on map

Warren Gildea: “170 Barrington St. I enjoyed the city sponsored Tree walks pre-Covid and on one of the walks the Shag Hickory Tree was pointed out - very unique. I have since had the pleasure of discovering other Shag Hickorys in Parks, Washington Grove and Mt Hope Cemetery.” View on map

Highland Park

There were about as many Tree Stories entries for Highland Park as there were for the rest of the city put together, a testament to the enduring appeal of the historic park's design by Frederick Law Olmsted. Among its features is an officially designated arboretum.

LEFT: Katsura tree in Highland Park. MIDDLE: The park's flowering magnolia and cherry trees on April 30, 2022. RIGHT: An older tree frames the skating pond in Highland Park Feb. 15, 2022.DEBI BOWER; TINA MACINTYRE-YEE AND SHAWN DOWD/DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE

Angela K: “The katsura tree in Highland Park is joyful. It is so big that a kingdom of birds can be housed in its branches and a village of children can play under its thick low limbs, among its gnarled roots that are partially exposed, showcasing its sturdy foundation. I smile as soon as I approach its beauty and well being, with the same happy anticipation as walking into a friends' home.” View on map

Cary Conrow: “In Rochester this large Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) east of the Lamberton conservatory is my favorite. "Discovered" it as a child with my parents and have watched it grow for decades.” View on map

Donn Wells MD: “My favorite tree in Rochester is the Cercidiphyllum Japonicom in Highland Park. It is the huge, very old tree that stands tall just below the point where the two sidewalks join at the southeast end of the walkway around Highland Reservoir. It is labeled with a tag. I have gained a reputation in my family for great botanical knowledge for always rattling off the Latin name for this tree each time we pass by. I try to avoid noting that this is the only tree I can name in Latin. My kids and my grandkids have all climbed on the thick low branch of this tree. We have picnicked under it and sat under its shade on hot summer days, ever since we came to Rochester 60 years ago to attend the MedicalSchool. "Sir Sid" is The Tree in my family.” View on map

Eileen: “The magnolias in Highland park begin blossoming in April and May, and when I lived nearby and went on daily walks in the park, they are just so surprising and big and beautiful. The park gets all the press about the lilacs but the magnolias (before lilac season) and the rhododendrons (a little after lilac season) deserve credit for making the park a treasure. I work at UR, and I try to visit the trees as often as I can. I missed the last two years, working mostly from home.” View on map

Erin Dwyer: “The katsura tree in Highland Park. It's big and beautiful and I have memories of taking my kids to the park when they were little and playing around this tree. I attended the 100th birthday party for this beauty. I don't have much tree knowledge. I just love the park and all its trees. And it gives me comfort that this tree has survived all the tumult of the last few years.” View on map

Jasmine Chastine: “Gingko Biloba in Highland Park, North East of Lamberton Conservatory toward the evergreen section of the park. The gingko biloba is very special because it is a perfect canopy for reading in the Summer time and it's leaves are known to improve memory and cognitive function. It's a strong and sturdy tree but when Fall comes the leaves turn bright yellow and the gentlest touch of wind sends them flying and it seems magical.” View on map

John Jaenike: “It's a magnolia in Highland Park, which is a short walk from my house. One of the highlights of the year for me is looking up the hill in spring and seeing this tree in full flower” View on map

KB: “A willow tree in Highland Park. I love weeping willows, and this one is huge and its branches hide the outside. It's fun to explore, and the area around it is perfect for picnics with friends.” View on map

Lindsay: “Highland Park near Mount Vernon. My 3 young boys called this Faergus Fir "the climbing tree". It's been a favorite destination when they were young for climbing. When my mother died, Friends gathered a donation for Highland Conservatory to dedicated and her name. The plaque has long since disappeared but the tree remains. Grew out of climbing, it still was a frequent clue destination for our family Christmas outdoor scavenger hunts.” View on map

Lindsey: “There is a massive tree in Highland park that spreads and twists and has a trunk made for climbing. The branches go up and out, and some droop back on to the ground. It is a fairy tree, a dryad, a hiding place for trolls, a Tolkein-esque Ent. I have visited it every single time I am in Highland Park, and I have lived here all my life. It's pure magic.” View on map

Rich Calabrese Jr.: “The reason why the Highland Park Sycamores are meaningful is because of their beauty and their history. Some might be five feet wide, maybe 100 feet tall. Just imagine what they've "seen" over the years. The inventions of the car, radio, TV, two world wars (and then some), the Depression, space travel, cell phone and the internet. Sitting underneath them gives me the feelings of security, appreciation and gratitude. I was told by a Highland Park arborist that they may have been there before Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park in the late 1800's. They're beyond breathtaking.” View on map

Tom: “Just over the ridge at Highland Park by Meigs St. I grew up over there. There’s kind of a little valley and sort of sitting on its own is this little tree, almost like an umbrella. It might be an evergreen. It’s very accessible, maybe 12 feet tall, it spreads out, it’s easy to climb, and me and my friend Jimmy would just go up there and sit in the tree and talk. That’s where I grew up; that’s where I learned to love hiking and everything.” View on map

Contact staff writer Justin Murphy at

[This story was originally published by Democrat & Chronicle.]

Did you like this story? Your support means a lot! Your tax-deductible donation will advance our mission of supporting journalism as a catalyst for change.