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Madison Square Park Conservancy is responsible for the maintenance of the park’s lawns which are in the process of spring reseeding. While the grass is establishing now, visitors should expect the majority of lawns to be ready for use in late May.  Lawns are open daily for public use starting at 10 AM through 5 PM, weather permitting. Lawns are closed on Parade Days.  Learn more about park hours and rules by visiting our FAQ page.

Our London Plane Trees Are Losing Their Bark—Here’s Why

Jul 26, 2021 | Horticulture

Our London Plane Trees Are Losing Their Bark—Here’s Why

20210706 092239

The London plane tree is a large, shade tree and the most common street tree found in New York City. In fact, it was beloved by former NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Robert Moses. As you walk through Madison Square Park, you may notice the thin, outer bark from our London planes falling off and making quite the dramatic appearance along our pathways. Although the mottled look left behind may be of concern to you, this bark “exfoliation” is a year-round, normal, spontaneous occurrence and is beneficial to the health of these long-lasting, resilient trees. 

As the London plane grows, its bark is pushed off along the entire length of its trunk, unable to expand as fast as the tree is putting on growth. This shedding bark presents multiple benefits for the London plane tree. Bark falling to the ground can contain harmful parasites, mosses, pests, or fungal diseases that may have otherwise posed a significant threat to the tree with continued exposure. This mechanical adaptation also allows the tree to protect itself from harmful pollutants in the air that may have accumulated on its bark over time. This is particularly useful due to the detrimental transport and industrial emissions found in urban settings like Manhattan.

Since this peeling occurs in patches, it gives the tree additional visual interest by exposing a creamy, white, inner bark color. As you hear the crunch of bark under your feet this summer, or see it sprinkled alongside you on sidewalks and lawns, look up, and take in the beautiful, natural camouflage bark pattern of the London plane tree!

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