John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
An urban-forestry nonprofit has mapped the city’s gorgeous, but not-so-touristy, flowering trees.
The famed Japanese cherry trees of Washington, D.C., are now entering their peak blooming period. That means locals are in for an incredible sight: raucous crowds of camera-wielding tourists swarming the Tidal Basin, snapping away as if Obama himself was under the boughs doing bare-chested jumping jacks.
For folks who want to absorb the sublime beauty of fresh petals with less commotion, the nonprofit Casey Trees has cobbled together a wonderfully comprehensive guide to the city’s other cherry blossoms and less-celebrated blooming forestry. “We created this map in part because this time of year cherry trees get a lot of love in D.C.” says Jason Galliger, the organization’s digital strategist. “But our urban forest is so much more than just those trees around the Tidal Basin. We wanted our audience to be able to find and explore all kinds of different flowering trees throughout the city.”
The map is based on Casey’s data as well as info from the National Park Service, the D.C. government, and elsewhere, and includes mainly trees on federal or public land. It was made by Josh Pullin, a 25-year-old junior-level GIS analyst at the organization. Warning to fruit thieves: While there may be a large number of apple trees in D.C., Pullin notes “a good many of those are crabapples, which while beautiful when they flower would make terrible pies!”
The map is fairly self-explanatory; click the upper-right tab for a drop-down menu of tree species. Look at all these cherry trees you could gawk at outside of the Tidal Basin:
And here’s a view of the city’s flowering diversity, featuring apple trees (green), cherry trees (pink), crapemyrtles (salmon), dogwoods (red), goldenrain trees (yellow-green), lilacs (deep purple), and Japanese pagoda trees (blue), which are known for their fragrant, ivory blossoms: