Home arrow Community Guide arrow Walking Tours of Bristol arrow Bristol Tree Guide - A Self-Guided Walking Tour of the Bristol, R.I. Historic District
Bristol Tree Guide - A Self-Guided Walking Tour of the Bristol, R.I. Historic District

Bristol Tree Guide - Tree MapFor over three hundred years, Bristol has quietly enjoyed an enviable reputation as one of New England's most picturesque seaports. The town's spectacular setting on Narragansett Bay is enhanced by the canopy of beautiful trees that shade its historic streets.

This guide includes a map of some of Bristol's specimen trees located within Bristol's Historic District. The various trees are numbered to correspond to their location. The common name of the tree is given first, followed by its Latin botanical name (in italics). In addition, each entry has a brief overview of some of the more interesting and lesser-known facts about either the particular tree or the species in general. The Bristol Tree Society hopes that you will find this map guide helpful in getting to know the town a little better.

Founded in 1998, the Bristol Tree Society is a group of volunteer citizens who are dedicated to the protection, preservation and growth of Bristol's historic urban forest. In addition to undertaking a town-wide tree inventory, the Tree Society has initiated Rhode Island's only disease-tolerant American Elm reintroduction program, one of only a few in the United States.

With this guide, you are ready to discover the treasures of one of America's loveliest communities.

We hope you enjoy your walk!

Tree marked by an asterick (*) are on private property. Please view only from public rights-of-way.

1. GINKGO
(Ginkgo biloba)
GINKGO (Ginkgo biloba)
Leaves shaped like a duck's webbed foot and turning a beautiful yellow fall color. Ancient evolutionary link between the conifers and deciduous trees. (At entrance to Fleet Bank driveway.)
*2. TULIP TREE
(Liriodendron tulipifera)
 TULIP TREE (Liriodendron tulipifera)Rhode Island's largest Tulip Tree in terms of girth (over 16'). Late 18th century. (Best viewed from rear of Andrews School.)
3. EUROPEAN LINDENS
(Tilia cordata, T. vulgaris)
 EUROPEAN LINDENSThis row of 14 LIndens, extending from Bradford to State Street, is on e of Bristol's most treasured natural resources. A classic European-style formal "allee".
*4. TULIP TREE
(Liriodendron tulipifera)
 TULIP TREE (Liriodendron tulipifera)Rhode Island State Champion Tulip Tree. Reputedly tallest tree in the State (128'). (Front lawn of Bradford-Dimond-Norris House.)
*5. COPPER BEECH
(Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea')
 COPPER BEECH (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea')This 19th century specimen rivals the famed Beeches of Newport. (Best viewed from State Street.)
6. LONDON PLANE/ SYCAMORE
(Platanus x acerifolia)
LONDON PLANE/ SYCAMORE (Platanus x acerifolia)
The London Plane was hybridized in Europe in the 17th century by crossing the American Sycamore with the Oriental Plane Tree. Distinctive 'camouflage' bark. (Twin trees at 86 State Street.)
7. EUROPEAN LINDEN
(Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)
 EUROPEAN LINDEN (Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)This 200-year-old specimen is possibly Bristol's oldest tree. Its thick fragrance perfumes the evening air in June.
8. HORSECHESTNUT
(Aesculus hippocastanum)
HORSECHESTNUT (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Historic 19th century row of 5 trees, with spectacular May flowers. With the Linden, Bristol's signature tree.
9. EUROPEAN LINDEN
(Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)
 EUROPEAN LINDEN (Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)Differentiating the various European Lindens is a daunting task, even to experts. (At 31 Constitution Street.)
*10. AUSTRIAN PINE
(Pinus nigra)
 
This species of Pink has distinctive fissured bark and a handsome shape. Well-adapted to coastal Rhode Island
*11. ENGLISH OAK
(Quercus robur)
 ENGLISH OAK (Quercus robur)Introduced in Colonial times, the English Oak has naturalized itself in coastal New England. It is the legendary tree of Sherwood Forest fame.
*12. NORTHERN CATALPA
(Catalpa speciosa)
 Around the turn of the 20th century, Catalpa trees were planted in the dozens by schoolchildren as part of a nation-wide regreening effort. The long fruit (up to 20") gives rise to its nickname, the Indian Bean. (In yard of 202 Hope Street.)
 *13. MIMOSA
(Albizia julibrissin)
 Bristol is the northernmost limit of cultivation for this fernlike tree with feathery, dusty-rose flowers. Along with the Rose of Sharon, it is one of the mainstays of the summer garden. Native to Persia.
*14. COPPER BEECH
(Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea')
 COPPER BEECH (Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea')The terms 'Copper' and 'Purple' Beech are used interchangeably, but both describe the beautiful purplish coloration of the leaves of this variant of teh European Beech. A classic tree for the Victorian estate. (Best viewed from 'Seven Oaks' driveway entrance.)
*15. ZELKOVA
(Zelkova serrata)
 Dr. Goerge Rogers Hall, a Bristol native and early American plant collector, introduced this Oriental species to the Western Hemisphere around 1861. (Twin trees in front of 124 Hope Street.)
16. EUROPEAN LINDENS
(Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)
 EUROPEAN LINDEN (Tilia cordata or T. vulgaris)Europeans have long used the Linden's perfume for brewing tea and scenting exquisite soaps. A favorite nectar of the honeybee.
17. THREE-IN-ONE TREE
 This "all-purpose" tree is actually a Norway Maple (Acer latanoides) and Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) fused together into a helix, with a Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumilia) growing out of the crotch. We're not making this up. (Adjacent to little garage.)
*18. BLUE ATLAS CEDAR
(Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca')
 Native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, the Blue Atlas Cedar is one of the handsomest evergreens, with a massive flat-topped crown and broad, horizontal branches. (Best viewed from Walley Street.)
19. RED OAK
(Quercus rubra)
 RED OAK (Quercus rubra)Contrary to popular belief, not all Oaks are slow growing, as the Red Oak testifies. It often puts on 1-2' of growth per year.
20. HORSECHESTUNUT
(Aesculus hippocastanum)
 HORSECHESTNUT (Aesculus hippocastanum)Longfellow's poem "Under a Spreading Chestnut Tree" actually refers to the Horsechestnut, not the native American Chestnut. (On corner of Walley Street.)
*21. CUTLEAF (FERNLEAF)
BEECH (Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia')
CUTLEAF (FERNLEAF) BEECH (Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia')
A variety of the European Beech, with gracefully cut fern-like leaves. (Rear lawn of 20 High Street.)
*22. EUROPEAN BEECH
(Fagus sylvatica)
EUROPEAN BEECH (Fagus sylvatica)
The original Old-World European species, European Green Beeches are noted for their elephant-hide trunks.
*23. GINKGO
(Ginkgo biloba)
 GINKGO (Ginkgo biloba)At over 16' in circumference, this is believed to be the largest Ginkgo in Rhode Island. (Rear lawn of 42 High Street.)
24. SILVER MAPLE
(Acer saccharinum)
 Fast growing, yet graceful and fountain-like. Shaggy bark somewhat reminiscent of a Hickory.
25. TULIP TREE
(Liriodendron tulipifera)
 TULIP TREE (Liriodendron tulipifera)The name correctly derives from the leaf's outline, not the flowers. Tallest member of the Magnolia family.
26. SIBERIAN ELM
(Ulmus pumila) 
 Generally resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, the Siberian Elm is today one of the most common Elms in Bristol.
*27. SOUTHERN CATALPA
(Catalpa bignonioides)
 The beautiful white flowers appear in late June and early July, when few other trees are in bloom. (Located adjacent to side fence on Cooke street.)
28. LONDON PLANE/SYCAMORE
(Platanus x acerifolia)
LONDON PLANE/ SYCAMORE (Platanus x acerifolia)
The London Plane generally has yellower bark than its parent, the American Sycamore. This early 19th century specimen is Bristol's oldest and largest London Plane.
*29. SASSAFRAS
(Sassafras albidum)
 The fragrant leaves come in three shapes, one of which closely resembles the outline of Bristol. Bark and roots used for flavoring a variety of concoctions, including teas, candy and medicine. (Small grove located between 149 and 159 High Street.)
*30. BALD CYPRESS
(Taxodium distichum)
 The Bald Cypress is more typically at home in the Louisiana bayous and Florida Everglades. (In rear yard of 159 High Street, best viewed from driveway at 165 High Street.)
31. BUTTONWOOD/SYCAMORE
(Platanus occidentalis)
 BUTTONWOOD/SYCAMORE (Platanus occidentalis)The classic white-barked American Sycamore, one of the rarest native trees in cultivation today. With the Tulip Tree and the American Elm, ranks as one of the true giants of the forest primeval.
*32. DAWN REDWOOD
(Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
 Once thought to be extinct, this species was rediscovered in China in 1941. The Dawn Redwood is one of the few conifers that sheds its needles. (In rear yard opposite Byfield Street.)
33. AMERICAN ELM
(Ulmus americana)
AMERICAN ELM (Ulmus americana)
With its classic umbrella shape, the American Elm has a stateliness and beauty unmatched by any other tree. This 60-year-old specimen has so far escaped the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease, which decimated Bristol's Elms in the 1950s and 1960s.
*34. GIANT SEQUOIA
(Sequoiadendron giganteum)
 This particular tree rivals the famed specimen at Blithewold as one of the largest Sequoias east of the Rockies. Fast growing, this tree was actually planted in the early 1950s.
*35. JAPANESE MAPLE
(Acer palmatum)
 The Japanese Maple features delicately incised leaves and exquisite fall coloration.

 

For further information, please call or write at:

Bristol Tree Society,
P.O. Box 228, Bristol, RI 02809;
(401)253-0033 or (401)254-0338