Signs of Spring in NYC Parks
Spring has sprung in NYC! Here are some signs of spring to look for on your next visit to a park:
A checkmark will appear and the image will brighten when a sign of spring is discovered in 2021. This timeline is subject to change.
As winter winds down, snowdrops emerge out of the frozen ground, usually in January or early February, as one of the earliest signs of spring. This year, snowdrops were spotted in Central Park in early January and The Battery around mid-January. The Washington Square Park Conservancy spotted their first snowdrops on January 22. Snowdrops started blooming in Central Park, Father Fagan Park, and on the High Line during the last week of February.
The presence of woodcocks also known as "timberdoodles" is a sign that their spring migration to the north has begun. This year, our friends at the Wild Bird Fund announced on February 28 that woodcocks are now arriving! Their peak arrival time is usually around mid-March. And, as springtime nears, our parklands will welcome warblers, songbirds, and many more feathered friends migrating to NYC.
This musical clock is a favorite stop for kids walking by the Central Park Zoo. On March 2, the clock switched to its spring playlist, featuring songs such as “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “Easter Parade”.
The crocus is one of the first spring bulbs to bloom in our parks. This year, crocuses were spotted in Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park during the first week of March!
Many New Yorkers look to the blossoming of daffodils—NYC's official flowers—as a sure sign that springtime is arriving in NYC. This year, the East River Alliance spotted daffodils at the north end of the park during the first weekend in March!
Hellebores aka Lenten Roses
Hellebores commonly blossom in the middle of winter. Although not really a sign of spring, it is a sign that spring is near! Hellebores are also called Lenten roses because their petals usually open up around the 40-day Lent which starts on February 17. This year, hellebores were spotted in Central Park in the second week of March, during Lent.
Spring Forward: Daylight Saving Time
On Sunday, March 14, 2021, time sprung forward one hour, welcoming more daylight hours and later sunsets!
Red Maple Trees
Red maple trees are usually one of the first trees to bloom in NYC, usually around early March. Look for tiny red buds on the branches. This year, buds were spotted on a red maple tree in Central Park during the first week of March, and our friends at Washington Square Park Eco Projects reported spotting red maple flowers the second week of March. Use the NYC Street Tree Map to find a red maple tree near you.
The Washington Square Park Eco Projects reported Cornelian cherry trees (actually part of the dogwood family) in bloom in Washington Square Park during the second week of March. Their blossoms look like clouds of mustard, like these Cornelian cherry tree blooms at Prospect Park years back.
For many New Yorkers, it's officially springtime in NYC when magnolia trees are in bloom. This year, star magnolias (which usually have white or pink and white flowers) were spotted in bloom in Washington Square Park in late March. The saucer magnolia flowers are pink and much larger and were spotted in bloom in early April.
At its peak, these pretty lavender-blue flowers blanket the woodland floors at Wave Hill, adding a magical experience to walk around the garden grounds. In late March, our friends at Wave Hill reported that the glory-of-the-snow flowers are blossoming.
NYC's cherry trees are the highlight of spring! The most commonly-spotted cherry tree species in NYC include kwanzan (pink and double-flowered), yoshino (tiny white flowers that smell like almonds), and okame (tiny deep pink flowers with a reddish-brown calyx that encloses the petals). This year, okame cherry trees bloomed in Central Park during the end of March and yoshino cherries began blossoming in early April. Up next is the kwanzan cherry blossom! Last year, kwanzan cherry blossoms were spotted in bloom in early April. As of mid-April this year, kwanzan cherry trees are still budding but not yet in bloom.
Tulip season usually peaks around late April to early May, adding pops of colors along our walkways. This year, tulip season arrived at Bryant Park in early April.
Callery pear trees are one of the most common species of street trees in NYC. Their blossoms are clusters of tiny, snow-white flowers. This year, Callery pears across NYC were in bloom in early April.
Unlike all the other flowering plants, eastern redbud flowers grow directly from the branches (not from stems)! Their unique lavender-pink clusters of flower buds look like pom-poms on its branches. This year, we spotted flowers on an eastern redbud in Carl Schurz Park in mid-April.
Crabapple trees bloom single or double-digit white, pink, or purple clusters of sweet-smelling blossoms on the tree's gnarled, craggy branches. This year, we spotted blossoming crabapple trees in mid-April.
These unique "flowers" (the petal-like structures are actually leaves) vary in color from white to pink to pale red. This year, the dogwoods were "in bloom" by mid-April.
Azalea flowers were spotted in bloom at Madison Square Park in early May!