NEW YORK (CBS 2) — What’s that smell?

Some residents in Queens are fuming over stinky trees planted by the city. The Parks Department acknowledged that it’s a problem, but has refused to fix it, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

When John Foertsch walks his dog, he steps gingerly to avoid the funky-smelling fruit of the female ginkgo biloba trees. When you step on one, your nose knows immediately.

“The stench is horrible – it’s like a combination of dog excrement and vomit,” Foertsch said. “It’s a nauseating smell.”

Years ago, the city planted six female ginkgo biloba trees along Langdale Street. The trees drop a bumper crop of fruit each fall.

“The fruit is pretty repulsive,” said Fred Gerber, an expert at Queens Botanical Garden.

Gerber said that’s why the females shouldn’t be planted in residential areas.

“Usually they’re planted by mistake, and of course the males don’t have any fruit, so those are the ones you usually see on the street,” Gerber said.

The city, however, is refusing to remove the female trees on Langdale Street.

A Parks official said in a statement, “While we no longer plant female ginkgo trees, we do not remove healthy ones. Trees offer many benefits which far outweigh any inconveniences that they may present.”

Residents said that explanation stinks.

“They need to come out here and see what … not only what it does to your shoes, but the carpet inside your house, and the carpet inside your vehicle,” resident Pat O’Brien said.

There are those people, though, who appreciate ginkgo fruit for the seed inside. Some said the seed tastes like a green pea crossed with Limburger cheese.

Residents said they will continue to pester the Parks Department to take down the trees – and give their noses a break.

Ginkgo biloba is said to promote blood flow to the brain and improve memory. Residents said that on weekends, health food fans visit the street to gather the fruit.

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Tony Aiello

Comments (23)
  1. marialissa says:

    These trees are also on East 35 th street between Ave R and Fillmore Ave. in Brooklyn. They smell so badly it takes your breath away. i think that if our mayor EMPOROR BLOOMBERG does not believe it to be a problem he should have them planted at Gracie Mansion..

  2. mel says:

    Everyone has a lot too say about not complaining…You should live with the tree in front of your house and I bet you would be complaining as well…if I want to have the berries ill go to vitamin world and buy them!

  3. Hal Colverton, Attorney of Love says:

    trees not tree’s……unless you are describing something the tree has.

    WRONG: I hate those tree’s
    RIGHT: The tree’s fruit stinks.

  4. Aleen Lee says:

    That reporter is so ignorant!! He should’ve tried the fruit before slamming it – it tastes fine (and I’m not a big health nut). It’s actually got a great chewy texture – like al dente pasta. Talk about being biased… If you wanted a balanced report, he should’ve talked not only to the complaining residents, but the people who pick them and LOVE them. sheesh…

    1. Mahra Singh says:

      I guarantee you dont have any trees in front of your place, Mahra.

    2. mel says:

      IGNORANT…I’m sure you dont have a tree in front of your house!!!! ….we live here and there is nobody that loves them!!!

  5. paul bunyon says:

    Parks Department are a bunch of morons! If enough people complain the trees should be removed. They don’t have to kill the trees. Transplant them somewhere else, like in front of their house! And for all the people in defense of these trees, swing by and take all the berries you’d like!

  6. ..... says:

    Im so glad there is finally a report about this. The trees were planted by my families house on 263rd st. For those of you are saying we are just complaining, trying living on a street lined with these tree’s. Sometimes the smell is just unbearable!! Its repulsive and because the fruits are all over the sidewalks you are bound to step on them and then bring the vial smell into the house. Id challange those who say we are just complaining and these trees have been around for a long time to take a walk down these streets and even step on a few fruits and bring that smell home. I’d bet money that you would join the rally to get those trees removed!

    1. CSI says:

      I use to live in Melros projects for 10 years and they have these tree’s all over. So where’s the money because it never bothered me. It’s a tree. It will go away soon. It’s not that serious that people have to complain and want to cut them down. I walk through long island and some area’s have these tree’s as well.

  7. CSI says:

    complain, complain , complain. Thats all you’ll do. So what it smells. They have been around for years. It only last a month or two. then they are gone. Buck up. There are more important things to be worried about then a couple of trees. There are a lot of ugly people out there but you don’t see me complaining to get them off the streets.

  8. Gary Kaplan says:

    The solution is to bring a couple of buckets full over to the entrance to the Parks department and their parking lot. Might as well share the goodness with them.

    City hall might appreciated their uniqueness with a few buckets.

    1. niklu says:

      Gary, exactly what I was thinking, scoop up buckets of the seeds and spread the wealth, Parks Dept, City Hall, Gracie Manor.
      Find out where the Park Offical lives

  9. leigh says:

    The report reflected more ignorance than information. The nuts are indeed, very good. Journalists used to at least attempt to understand their subject. I am not Chinese, but I found the reporter’s behavior not only lacking knowledge but found it culturally offensive.

    1. CityEmployee says:

      Tell reporter Tony Ailello back to school~those thing are good for your health, the guy Obrian must be eating meat only.

    2. Paul Bunyon says:

      The trees were never meant to be planted in public locations. If you refer to the NYC Dept. of Parks website you will clearly see that these trees are, in FACT, illegal to be planted in public. PERIOD!

  10. Vivian Corso says:

    It is such awaste to not utilize the delicious fruit , which is easily harvested with hands in a plastic bag to separate the rotten fruit from the nut,which washes off quickly.No smell is left,nuts are cooked and are super delicious ! I’ve had them on my streets in Morningside Heights all my life and learned to harvest them from the Chinese people I saw piching them up. There is no smell because they’re removed..It is perfectly safe. Ginko iis the most ancient tree,considered sacered. Allow Chinese to harvest if locals don’t appreciate their riches.

    1. mel says:

      well come to queens and pick up ours….ill even supply the bags for you!!!!

      1. Z says:

        where do you live? we can post your address in all the chinatowns of each borough and you can expect your sidewalks picked clean. the ball is in your court.

  11. Bob C says:

    Bloomberg is an idiot

  12. Susan Ryan says:

    You’re not kidding it’s not only Langdale Street — we have a bunch of these vomitrocious trees on Columbus Avenue and West 94th Street on the Upper West Side too, You can’t walk down the street without stepping in the fruit, and the smell is nauseating. I understand why the Parks Department plants Gingkos, because they are hardy and last a long time as street trees, but there has to be some way to be sure they aren’t planting the female ones “by mistake.”

  13. paullly says:

    they plant these trees by mistake there all over and they stink to high heaven the parks deptment should at least come around and gather the stinky …

  14. Paul says:

    lol im the mailman for langdale street for four years now. everytime this year i get very aggrivated about this because i have to constantly watch my step to avoid stepping on these fruits that smell like dog fecies and rotten cheese. i bring the smell home with me if i dont wash the bottom of my shoes before i go home. its always a converstion with the langdale residents everyday wondering when someone whos in charge will finally remove these trees.. Its all over the sidewalks and street..

  15. tom ball says:

    Itas just not Langdale street. These trees were planted after major road reconstruction about 20 years ago. The area between 263 st east to langdale between Union tpke and hillside ave have these trees. I have tried for many years to have this tree removed. I have heard of some trees being removed on some blocks, but not all. I guess someone had a connection in the parks dept.
    They even have the nerve to tell you, to keep the sidewalk clean or risk a fine. These fruits drop day and night for months right into the winter. No cars will even park under them. I love trees, but this is too much to smell all the time. I also understand that if these fruits are not prepared right, they are poision to out pets/humans

    Maybe CBS can shake the parks dept out of their trees and do something about them

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