The Trees of İstanbul

There are many trees, particularly the plane tree, that adds extra charm to the beauty of İstanbul. It is apparent that there are numerous neighbourhoods, avenues and streets in İstanbul, which are named after some trees. 

1. Plane Tree: It is the plane tree that can be seen around the squares of the old Ottoman settlements, from the smallest villages to the capital city with their large sizes, large bodies, high branches and huge leaves, as if they manifest the Empire’s strength, power and authority.

There are monumental plane trees in the first and second courtyards of the Topkapı Palace, particularly around the Imperial Council, in front of the Imperial Gate and the Gate of Felicity. This prevalence of plane trees extends along Gülhane Park and through Alemdar Street and Zeynep Sultan Mosque. The plane trees in Sultanahmet Square, the courtyard of Sultanahmet Mosque and some others along the tram line in Kabataş express the same power of the Empire. 

The plane tree is the most important element in the compositions of religious architecture, mosques, fountains, dombs, piers and cafes in the courtyard of Eyüp Sultan Mosque, Osmanağa in Kadıköy, Mihrimah in Üsküdar, particularly in Atik Valide, Anatolian Fortress, Göksu, Kandilli, Kanlıca, Çubuklu, Paşabahçe, Beykoz, Kavak, Emirgan and Çengelköy. 

2. Oak Tree: Monumental oak trees can be seen in the woods of the Bosphorus, Anatolian Fortress, Çubuklu Hidiv Pavilion, Beykoz Kaymakdonduran and Yıldız Woods in the European side of the city. 

3. Cypress: These trees are important elements of the landscape architecture of İstanbul's gardens and woods.  Besides they are also regarded as cemetery trees. In the Ottoman Poetry, the beloved beautiful ones are always portrayed as “tall like a cypress tree”. Monumental cypress trees can be seen particularly in the Topkapı Palace, around the summer palace from the era of Süleyman the Magnificent in Fenerbahçe and the gardens of sufi dervish convents such as Sünbül Efendi and Yahya Efendi. Karacaahmet Cemetery is yet another place where we can see the oldest cypress trees in İstanbul. 

4. Stone Pine: These trees are widespread particularly on the Asian side of the city, in Üsküdar, Nakkaştepe and Fethipaşa Woods. Monumental stone pines can be seen around the hills of the Anatolian Fortress, which extend up to Burunbahçe between Paşabahçe and Beykoz. Stone pines in Küçük Çamlıca Woods are among the examples of monumental trees. 

5. Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum): Judas tree is among the trees of İstanbul, that cannot live as long as plane trees live, that cannot extend along the woods as much as oak trees do, that does not stand tall as much as cypress trees stand; it looks shorter and humble, yet it leaves behind the others in blossoming flowers. Judas tree shows off with its specific pinky tones in İstanbul for a short time around the year, in April and May; in the woods of the Bosphorus, along the Marmara Sea, around Gülhane Park, in the European Fortress (Rumelihisarı). 

6. Aesculus: This tree has entered into rivalry with plane trees in İstanbul in recent years. It appears to be endeavouring as if it wants to replace plane trees in the squares. It has been gradually growing from Beyazıt Square to Sultanahmet Square, from Gülhane Park to many school gardens. It kindly appears to reply to plane trees when it blossoms with its big white clusters. The flamboyant and spectacular array of colours of the red-flowery aesculus appears before the simple beauty of its white flowers. With its red tones like violet-pink and wine colours, aesculus highly accords with ıstanbul. It is also commonly seen along Bağdat Street on the Asian side of the city. 

7. Celtis: Celtis is a tree of “lodges and shrines” while cypress is a tree of cemeteries. Monumental examples of celtis can be seen in the grave and courtyard of Imrahor Ilyas Bey Monument in Yedikule. 

8. Ash Tree: Standing as a tree of woods like the oak, ash tree has been rare in İstanbul for quite sometime. However, the fans of ash trees are recommended to visit Mihrişah Sultan Fountain in the garden of Küçüksu Pavilion along the Bosphorus to see these trees. 

9. Mastic Tree: The most beautiful examples of İstanbul's spectacular mastic trees can be seen in Turing Garden in Kadıköy, Fenerbahçe on the Asian side of the city.

10. Magnolia: This is an beautiful tree that was brought to İstanbul in later times. It sometimes can grow as high as plane and oak trees but it does not drop leaves, it is an evergreen plant. Spectacular flowers blossom on it. It can be seen in the gardens of palaces and pavilions; along the Bosphorus, Beylerbeyi Palace, Baltalimanı, Mustafa Reşit Paşa Pavilion, and the mansions of the Bosphorus. 

11. Olive Tree: This is a cultivated plant native to the Asian side of İstanbul like the oak trees. It is generally located along the Marmara Sea. 

12. Lime Tree: This tree can be seen in the gardens and headwaters of İstanbul. It is particularly located along the Bosphorus, water resources, and recreation centres. 

13. Mimosa: Mimosa is known as the harbinger of spring in İstanbul. It can be seen around the town of Maltepe and the Princes’ Islands, along the Marmara Sea.

14. Laurus: Often found in the gardens of pavilions and mansions along the Bosphorus, laurus naturally grows with its seeds like judas trees. 

15. Lebanon Cedar: Despite being very rare in İstanbul , Lebanon Cedar suits İstanbul with its beautiful sight and aura. Most beautiful examples can be seen in Emirgan and Beylerbeyi. 

16. Paulownia: Along with judas trees, paulownia has recently showed up with its colourful flowers in İstanbul , particularly along the Bosphorus. 

17. Magnolia Soulangiana: Looking like purple bulbs, as a kind of magnolia, these trees are among the plants that beautify İstanbul.

Reference: Dursun, H. (2012). Tarih, mekan ve kültür: İstanbul. Bilgili, A. E. (Editör) Şehir ve Kültür İstanbul içinde (107-181). İstanbul: Profil Yayıncılık.