According to a 1998 statistical survey of Arlington trees, the following were the most common species among an estimated 24,500 street trees at that time (percentage of total given for each):
Norway Maple (40.8%)
Black Oak (5.1%)
Hemlock species (4.2%)
American Arborvitae (Northern White Cedar) (4.0%)
Red Oak (3.6%)
Ornamental Cherry (3.4%)
White Pine (2.9%)
Red Maple (2.8%)
Green Ash (2.7%)
The vast majority were, and still are, Norway Maples. At one time these were considered the ideal street tree as they are tall, broad-canopied, and very resilient. We have since learned, however, that they are invasive, meaning that they compete with and overwhelm native species in our natural areas. In consequence, Massachusetts and many other states have banned the sale of Norway Maple.
Many of Arlington’s street trees were planted during the first half of the last century and are now nearing the end of their lives. As a result, many more trees are removed each year than are being replaced.
Currently, the Tree Division is basing their tree selection on suggestions provided by Massachusetts Department of Transportation. For more information about appropriate trees for the Arlington area, see Recommended Urban Trees.