Park update: The Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards (between 30th & 34th Streets) is temporarily closed today.

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30th Street Challenge
Give by June 20

To meet the demands of our busiest time of the year, we ask all friends of the High Line to help us raise a total of $30,000—$1,000 for each block of our 1.5-mile-long park along Manhattan’s West Side.

Photo by Andrew Frasz

5 more reasons to love native trees

October 12, 2023

It feels like fall has finally arrived! With cooler temps and increasingly shorter days, the signs of the season are popping up in the park with the first tinges of color on the leaves of our sumac trees, with more autumnal color to come in the coming weeks.

But trees—particularly native trees—have an integral role to play in the High Line’s gardens and in New York City beyond being autumnal eye candy. To coincide with the October extension of Keep It Wild: Celebrating Native Plants on the High Line supported by Ruinart Champagne and the upcoming NYC City of Forest Day this Saturday, October 14, let’s take a closer look at these mysterious leafy giants.

Here are 5 more reasons to love native trees:

1. They make NYC better for people.
Trees are critical to the health of the planet—but not only in the vast forested wilderness. New York City trees are quietly fighting climate change and its unpleasant effects by filtering air pollutants, capturing and sequestering carbon, creating shade that cools the city on hot days, and helping mitigate flooding by retaining stormwater. The High Line is home to 1,340 trees, with more than 80% of them indigenous to North America and the Northeast. Native trees are even more likely to make an impact because they’re uniquely adapted to our local environment.

Sweetbay magnolia flower

2. Spring blooms provide early-season food for pollinators.
Trees have some of the earliest flowers to bloom in the year, providing crucial nourishment for pollinators emerging from hibernation. Native trees have long-evolved, specialized relationships with local pollinators—like the High Line’s Sweetbay magnolia, which is primarily beetle-pollinated and has evolved to handle their large size and clumsiness.

Yellow-rumped warbler on an eastern red cedar

3. Autumn and winter fruits and seeds welcome migrating and overwintering songbirds.
Cold-season food sources are key to the survival of songbirds, including both those that pass through New York City on their way to warmer climes and those that tough it out in the city over the winter. Native trees like the park’s Eastern red cedar provide bountiful berries that attract and nourish a wide variety of birds, from migratory warblers to local mourning doves.

A Swallowtail butterfly

4. There’s no place like home [in a tree].
Many native birds, pollinators, and wildlife rely on native plants for shelter, nesting sites, and somewhere to hibernate over the winter. Native trees on the High Line like blackgum have natural hollows that are perfect for birds, bats, and other wildlife, while sassafras trees are an important host plant for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

5. They help keep out invasive species.
Native trees can help protect us from invasive species, making it harder for these otherwise destructive plants to take root. They are also less likely to provide food sources for invasive insects, like spotted lanternflies who prefer equally invasive trees of heaven for their habitat. A functioning ecosystem rooted in native plants is the best defense against invasives.

Want to learn more about native plants on the High Line? (We have more than 150!) Download a free copy of our native plants guide and plan your next walk through the park.

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Eastern red cedar

Support native trees on the High Line

Your symbolic adoption of the native tree Eastern red cedar—or one of our seven other plants—helps keep all of the park’s 150,000+ plants thriving 365 days a year.

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Photography by Andrew Frasz, Steven Severinghaus, and Ayinde Listhrop

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Support native trees on the High Line

Help keep the park’s 150,000+ plants thriving 365 days a year.