Ooh, that smell! Man battles Ridge ginkgo tree!

The Brooklyn Paper
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He’s mad as hell — and he’s not going to rake it anymore!

Bay Ridge resident Richard Mahany is so angry that the city won’t chop down a stinky ginkgo tree that dumps its foul-smelling fruit on the sidewalk in front of his 78th Street home that he has stopped cleaning up its odorous droppings in protest.

“The tree is a menace,” said Mahany, who at 74, is about the same age as the arbor that towers over his home. “If the city can refuse to remove the tree, then I can refuse to clean up the mess — it’s a city tree!”

Mahany moved into the home near the corner of Fifth Avenue more than 40 years ago and has diligently raked the putrid ginkgo nuts into the street, clearing a pathway so passersby aren’t forced to step on the notoriously pungent droppings.

But after a quintuple bypass surgery and treatment for an aortic aneurysm, he says he just doesn’t have the energy to clean up the mess — which coats his sidewalk almost every night in the fall and winter and produces an vomitous odor that wafts all the way to Fifth Avenue.

“When I clean it up, I ruin my shoes and smell like vomit afterwards,” said Mahany, who also blames the tree for uprooting a section of his sidewalk. “The neighbors will have to live with the stink and mess.”

Other than telling him to hold his nose, the city has done little to help Mahany in his fight against the awful-smelling tree.

Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson told The Brooklyn Paper that the city stopped planting female ginkgo trees — male ginkgos don’t smell — after realizing they were a “nuisance,” but the agency has no policy to help homeowners who’ve ended up with the grotesque germination.

“We don’t really have the resources to clean up the fruit,” said Abramson, who noted that a ginkgo clean-up is a homeowner’s responsibility, much like raking leaves.

And chopping down the tree isn’t an option because it’s healthy.

Though some neighbors sympathize with Mahany’s fight, not everyone hates the smelly tree. And that’s part of the problem.

In recent years, Mahany has spotted Brooklynites removing the ginkgo seeds — which are popular in Chinese soups — from their shells.

“They squish the fruit and take the seed and leave the pulp in the garden and on the sidewalk, making the mess even worse,” he said.

Foodies aren’t the borough’s only ginkgo lovers. Botanists adore the arbors — which are among the world’s oldest varieties of trees — for their beauty.

Mark Fisher of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden said he marvels at the ginkgo tree for its “interesting foliage” and because “it grows so well in the city.”

Mahany agrees that it’s a beautiful tree — he just doesn’t want the ginkgo in front of his home any longer.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love trees. I’m willing to pay for another tree – I just don’t have the energy to keep cleaning this up.”

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to fix rampant misspellings of the word ginkgo. Look, it isn't easy with all these crazy foreign consonant clusters nowadays.
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Reasonable discourse

Mr.Abramson' Are you kidding ? from Bay Ridge says:
What a horror this is. Neighbors and I are completely fed up with the mess from this ginkgo tree.
My driveway, and house stinks from it. My time is as important as anyone's. My water bill is additionaly taxed when cleaning the city's sidwalk of the mess.The fruit is toxic. I have had a serious itching rash from it. It covers vehicles, and etches their paint job.
The spokesman from the NYC Parks Dept. should be ashamed of the statement he made, to TJe Brooklyn Paper.
I wonder what he would do if he had a ginkgo dropping fruit every day on the sidewalk in front of his home. Guaranteed have the department he represents secretly remove it. He also states that "it is the individual's resposibilty to clean up the mess". He must think the tree drops all it's fruit in one day. This tree drops fruit right up untin Februasy ! Also he seems to forget the city planted this tree, and they erred on planting a female. So it is their responsibility. He also states "the city does not have the resources to clean up the fruit" ! Neither do I. The city admits they erred in planting this female tree. It is their mistake . Mr. Abramson must feel the city is excused for the error ?
If that's the case then I am excused from cleaning the mess. I am a senior citicen with disabilities, and I pay this God fosaken city over $4000.00 in taxes for no services and a very poor qualiy of life, due to this tree.
Mr. Abramson I invite you to come over with your rubber boots, and gloves and try to clean up this Crap !
Oct. 21, 2009, 1:49 pm
Citizen pruner from BP says:
Firstly, my sympathy to the man. The city should try to help him.

Chinese people collect the stuff. I have seen it with my own eyes, from street trees, as in this case, albeit in another neighborhood (not too far from Bay Ridge).

In one case I saw some Chinese or Asian folks, years ago, spread a blanket/sheet under a tree and shake it, with fruit then falling on sheet for them to collect. Earlier today I saw some Chinese/Asians with some sort of pole with hook contraption extended upward at another such tree.

Perhaps the Parks Dept. should compile a list of such (female fruit bearing Ginkgos) trees and issue permits for people to harvest the fruit, provided they take all of it, not just the nuts while leaving the fruit, as depicted above.

Another note - I believe the city didn't mean to plant these (female) trees in the first place (as opposed to the policy being changed, as in article), just that sometimes there were mistakes made and/or it can be difficult (impossible?) to determine which trees are female before they mature.
Oct. 21, 2009, 1:58 pm
A O from BKLYN says:
Posion the tree and Kill IT!!! then have the city come and remove the dead tree.
Oct. 22, 2009, 8:15 am
frombayridge from bay ridge says:
the postsentered by AO from bklyn and pete From bay ridge, are uncalled for. and insulting as well.
Oct. 24, 2009, 11:09 am
Peggy D from Venice, Fl. says:
I challenge New York City to do the right thing for Mr. Mahany. If I had that problem the city would of taken care of it. Why? because the health of their constituents is more important than whose should clean up. I am a New Yorker and I know if the people support Mr. Mahany the city will do the right thing. New Yorkers are caring people and remember that today it is Mr. Mahany's problem, tommorrow it could be yours. I am counting on you! Please HELP.
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:10 pm
asian dude from gpoint says:
being asian myself. All that needs to be done is post a free ginkgo sign in chinatown and the location of the tree and I guarantee you that side walk will be picked clean.
Oct. 27, 2009, 12:49 pm
Bay Ridge says:
to asian dude:
You are entirely wrong. They make more of a mess, by taking the nut only, and leaving the pulp. They also trample my garden, and have broken many branches of the hedges in the garden. I have to watch them when they come, as they pretend they can't understand English, when I ask them to keep out of the garden.
Oct. 27, 2009, 2:54 pm
joe from bronx says:
what is the fine for killing one of these trees?
Jan. 13, 2010, 3:42 pm
melissa from williamsburg says:
omg theres one of them trees in my old neighborhood. williamsburg on skillman av. it stiiiinks. and yes i used to see the chinese people goin nuts for that smelly stuff! and ide ask,why? they said it was for soups! yuckkkkko
June 27, 2010, 10:33 pm
old person from brooklyn says:
to Bay ridge pete.
you post ststed old people smell.
Did you come upon that knowledgeby sniffing at your parents or possibly your wife ?
Aug. 24, 2010, 3:32 pm
TC says:
The city shouldn't cut the tree only because the house owner doesn't want to clean the fruit. if someone doesn't want to clean leaves on sidewalk, can he/she request the city to remove all trees on the block? what he can do it either live with it or hire someone to do it or ask his two sons to clean or move! I think this guy should move. He is nut! He always calls police to tow people's car that park in front of his house or the neighbor's front house because he thinks the car block his driveway (a lot of time they are not). He is really famous on that on the whole block...ok I am off the topic. But this guy is worse than the tree thousand times.
Feb. 23, 2011, 10:27 am
Bklyn Gal from Bayridge says:
There are a few of the trees on the corner of 95th Street and Marine Avenue and they foul the air, destroy shoes and if you accidently park under one of them, your car smells for months.
Oct. 11, 2012, 4:39 pm
Al the King from Bay Ridge says:
To TC I know this man and you are entirely incorrect with your analysis of him. He is caring and helpful to all his neighbors. We know him for many years and has helped many of us whit problems we encounter, Yes he has summoned the cops as many of us on that street do when our driveway is blocked. Many vehicle owners don't respect the law and want a parking spot near the shopping or where they work. I asumme from the sound of your post you are one of those that illeagally park your vehicle. I hope you were one of those that got towed.
Oct. 1, 2013, 11:33 am
Neighbor from Bay Ridge says:
Just read this topic although a few yeas later. The poster that went off topic, is as the previous poster states dead wrong about this fellow. I also have called the police for inconsiderate drivers that have blocked our driveway. I live on the same street and that tree makes such a mess, those that know cross the street to avoid stepping in the goo !
You seem to know a great deal about my neighbor and friend. FYI both his sons have relocated years ago. Further he will do anything for any of his neighbors, including me. Lastly before shooting off your mouth don't disrespect veterans. He is a one of them that defended the likes of you !.
March 24, 2015, 8:07 am
78th st kid from Bay ridge says:
Wow Mahany is still around . He used to call the cops on kids on the block playing football in the fall back in the 80's He lives his life looking out the window kind of sad
Aug. 28, 2016, 1:39 pm

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