Tree Warden: Oenoke Maple Is New Canaan's Largest Tree

It's not a scientific fact, but it's likely, the tree warden says. The big sugar maple probably predates New Canaan's own incorporation, dating back to about 1761.


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.

heavens sake February 20, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Please, Mr. Tree Warden, There is a tree on Oanoke Rd (Rt. 124) just passed West Rd going into Scotts Corners that leans over the road at a 45 degree angle with the root starting to pull out of ground. Not the oldest or biggest tree in Town but probably the most hazardous. Not certain whether it is responsibility of NC, State or property owner, but requires immediate attention. Check it out and please respond. Will be sending photo to NC Patch and NC Advertiser.
Bruce Pauley February 20, 2013 at 03:57 PM
That tree, along with others on all three state roads in New Canaan, has been sent on to the state highway dept. They remove some, but not all. I hope they will get them all before mid-summer and the next storm season.
Michael Dinan (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Thanks, Bruce.
brian walter February 21, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Would love to know if the tree in Irwin Park on the path near the new parking area installed a year or so ago rivals the one on Oenoke in terms of age.
Peter February 21, 2013 at 03:25 AM
Hi Bruce, Did you measure that tree? I used an simple photo-measuring tool and got a diameter of 54 inches DBH on that sugar maple. That would make an approximate 171" CBH - circumference. There's some big trees hidden around, some perhaps not as much a venerable, hoary old Ent as that maple but a fun challenge to find out.
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I wonder, has this tree ever been tapped for syrup?
Michael Dinan (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Good question, Dr Z. I can tell you that many of us here in town when we were schoolchildren made field trips to the Nature Center just across and down the road for a maple syrup demonstration, and a taste of the sweet stuff. Great memories!


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