Gingko tree a major nuisance for Pelham Gardens resident

A photo of the mess left by the ginkgo tree in the fall.
Photo courtesy of Ann Carol Alper

The ginkgo tree outside Ann Carol Alper’s Pelham Gardens home was intended to spruce up the neighborhood’s appearance and improve air quality.

To Alper, however, it has done nothing but cause headaches.

The tree has been outside the Wickham Avenue house since Alper and her husband moved there in 1988.

And as long as the couple can remember, they have considered it a safety hazard, due to falling seeds that get squashed underfoot and make the sidewalk slippery.

They also find it to be a nuisance, because of the pungent odor the seeds emit.

Alper has been writing to city parks commissioner Adrian Benepe and Bronx parks commissioner Hector Aponte in 2008.

The Parks Department, which oversees the curb side vegetation, has a policy which forbids the removal of any healthy, living trees.

Since the Wickham Avenue ginkgo fits those criteria, it is not going anywhere. Parks did dispatch a worker to give the tree an injection that was supposed to curb its growth. But Alper said that has still not addressed the issue of the stinky, slippery falling seeds.

“It’s very dangerous, I live on a block where there’s a mailbox and most of the neighbors need to walk to the mailbox, and the mail person needs to bring the mail to mailbox,” Alper said. “When the fruit and seeds fall from the tree, they become slimey. It’s basically squashed fruit.”

Alper regularly cleans her sidewalk and cleans up the seeds, but she has a hard time keeping up with the tree’s output each year from about September, through December.

“It’s prolific,” she said.

And even in the dead of winter, when the tree is bare, the residue of the seeds is still visible on the sidewalk.

But Alper has little choice but to live with the tree outside her front door.

Alper has reached out to Community Board 11, which cannot do very much to help her either.

“They smell terrible, they stink,” CB 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke said. “

And obviously It’s a big mess for her. It’s a big burden.”

Ginkgo trees are rare in the Pelham Gardens area, although Warneke said he frequently fielded complaints about them from other parts of the northeast Bronx when he was a staffer in Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Warneke said. “The policy is to protect healthy trees.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

More from Around NYC