New Canaan’s largest tree is a sugar maple off of Oenoke Ridge, a tree whose planting likely dates from the 1761 construction of the home where it stands, officials say.
Though no tree in New Canaan made the recently released “Connecticut’s Notable Trees” list—a volunteer, Connecticut College Arboretum project—the sugar maple up near the intersection of Oenoke Ridge and Parade Hill Road is a whopper, Tree Warden Bruce Pauley said.
“It’s massive in trunk and girth,” Pauley said, adding that it’s not a scientific fact that the sugar maple is the town’s biggest tree, since he hasn’t been on every private property in town.
The homeowner there at 263 Oenoke Ridge was kind enough to let New Canaan Patch on property to snap some photos (attached), and said the home itself was the “main house” for a property that once
Think you've seen a bigger tree in town? Post a photo of it here by clicking where it says "Upload Photos & Videos" above, and New Canaan Patch will see if we should declare a new "Biggest Tree" in town.
stretched toward town to the Roger Sherman Inn and east all the way to Route 123.
The tree dates to New Canaan’s farming roots, Pauley said, which the town was up through the 1850s. According to Wikipedia, the New York City railroad came to New Canaan in 1868.
“The trees that have come up since then have all been what you would call ‘volunteers’—in other words, when you stop mowing the field, you get a variety of trees,” Pauley said. “Depending on the dominant species you have in the area, you’d have more than one type of tree than another.”
The forest in Connecticut at the time this area began developing and moving away from its more agricultural roots was a combination of oak and beech, Pauley said.
Then in the late-1970s and early-1980s, the gypsy moth infestation killed off the majority of oak trees “and the forest has become more maple and unfortunately there’s a predominance of Norway maples which are an invasive species in Connecticut,” Pauley said.
“So, we’re not so much blessed with great trees as we are cursed with some really crappy ones,” Pauley said candidly.
The tree warden added that he understands well that New Canaan residents forge emotional ties to trees based on things like their size or fall coloring, yet trees such as the sugar maple up on Oenoke Ridge falls into a different category, he said.
“I like to think of them as the grand old trees that our forefathers planted,” Pauley said.