City of Toronto Tree Selection

(Question)

I am scheduled to receive a replacement tree from the city. It is to replace an ash which was killed by the beetle infection. The two choices that they have offered are for a London Plane Tree or a Hackberry. Any comments about decisions. Soil is sandy and this is on a side and popular with local dogs. I am concerned about droppings from the tree.

(Answer)

You have been offered a choice of two very lovely trees, both of which are planted by the City of Toronto because they are reliable, drought and disease resistant, pollution tolerant and will tolerate much variation in soil quality.

The London Plane tree, Platanus × acerifolia, is a European native with a distinctive camouflage-patterned back, and is the larger of the two.  The Common Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis, is a member of the Elm family and a native tree, thus desirable from the point of view of adaptability to Toronto’s climate and soil conditions.

Both trees produce fruit, so as with all deciduous trees there will inevitably be some dropping of both leaves and fruit in the fall.  The Hackberry fruit often persists on the tree through the winter, where it is attractive to birds.

Here are a couple of links to a Toronto website that provides photographs and descriptions of both trees that will give you a more detailed idea of their size, shape, and other features, and also includes handy maps showing where specimens are located in Toronto, should you feel a local field trip would help to further inform your decision:

https://canadiantreetours.org/species-pages/Common_hackberry.html

https://www.canadiantreetours.org/species-pages/London_plane-tree.html