By Sarah Kennedy

Southern live oak trees draped with Spanish moss are an iconic symbol of southern cities like New Orleans and Savannah. The cold-intolerant trees have never been grown farther north than Virginia … until now.

Aiello: “I thought, with climate change, that perhaps this is something that we could grow.”

Anthony Aiello is the curator of the Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania. Five years ago, he set out to see if southern live oaks could now survive in Philadelphia.

Aiello: “For the first few years we sort of babied them; we had them in greenhouses for the winter that were allowed to go down to maybe thirty degrees, but not get particularly cold.”

Then, last fall, the trees were planted in a nursery outside – and they survived the winter.

Aiello says that as the climate warms, areas suitable for these trees are creeping northward. At the same time, he says trees like sugar maples that prefer cold temperatures may now struggle to survive at the southern edges of their native ranges.

If the live oaks survive a few more years in Philadelphia, they’ll be moved to a public part of the arboretum. That may be exciting to tree-buffs, but it’s also a reminder …

Aiello: “Climate change is really happening.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: David McCarthy.

This article originally appeared in Yale Climate Connections.

Contributed by:  Eric A. Moore, M.S., Martha S. Miller & Rusty Miller Endowed Urban Forestry Intern at Morris Arboretum


The spotted lanternfly is a pest insect accidentally introduced to Bucks County in late 2014. Originally native to China, India, Vietnam, and East Asiathis pest now threatens the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions’ logging, grape, and tree fruit industries. Currently, there is an ongoing effort to quarantine these insects until a more effective control strategy can be implemented. To view to most recently updated list of quarantine zones, visit the link at the bottom of this page.

If you live in a designated quarantine zone, it is important to prevent further spread by identifying and destroying these insects and their egg masses (below). Evidence suggests that spotted lanterflies prefer Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven) trees as a host plant. Therefore, if you own one of these trees or park underneath them regularly, you should diligently look for signs of spotted lanternfly. Egg masses can be transported on cars, plant material, lawn equipment (such as mowers), and other substrates such as stone and tarps. If you come across a spotted lanternfly or egg masses, it is advised to kill them by scraping them into a platic bag containing alcohol. It is also advised that people living in quarantine areas familiarize themselves with the spotted lanternfly life cycle because their appearance can vary depending on life stage. Images of spotted lanternfly nymphs are shown below. More information about spotted lanternfly life cycles can be found on the Penn State Extension webpage.

Spotted lanternflies do not exclusively feed on A. altissima and can be found on both woody and non-woody plants including black walnut. They use piecing mouthparts to suck out plant sugars, which wounds the plant and furthers its susceptibility to harmful fungal and bacterial pathogens. One succesful control strategy involves applying sticky bands to preferred host trees that capture and ultimately kill the flies.

If you are concerned about spotted lanternfly in your area be sure to see the Penn State Extension webpage for more information on what you can do to help manage the pest. 



Contributed by Joyce H. Munro

I want to know who he is, the landscape architect named Y Muto, who travelled six thousand miles to work for John T. Morris at Compton. So little is known about him. But I see him in his work—the thoughtful arrangement of pagodas and stone slab bridge and bronze cranes of the Tsukiyama-niwa (Hill Garden) at Compton, the “way to paradise” arched footbridge of the Temple Gate Garden in Fairmount Park, the standing stones of spiritual meaning in the Overlook at Compton. These good-for-the-soul gardens, designed by Muto in the early 1900s, still reveal his handiwork. But I want to know more.

I want to know if this is the same Muto who created the Japanese garden for Alexander Tison, who had been Professor of American Law at the Imperial University in Tokyo. A perfectly composed Kaiyū-shiki-teien (Promenade Garden) at Grey Lodge in the Catskills where Tison spent summers. It could be that Tison arranged for Muto’s services through the New York office of the Yokohama Nursery Company. It could also be that this garden, whose elemental forms remain unchanged, was Muto’s first commission in the U.S.

I want to know if Muto’s workmanship inspired Kahlil Gibran when he vacationed at Grey Lodge a decade later. It had been a dreadful summer and Gibran was glad to escape the hustle-bustle of New York City. It could be that Gibran was recollecting Muto’s landscape when he wrote “Beyond the Throne of Beauty” some months later:

One heavy day I ran away from the grimy face of society and the dizzying clamour of the city and directed my weary step to the spacious valley. I pursued the beckoning course of the rivulet and musical sounds of the birds until I reached a lonely spot where the flowing branches of the trees prevented the sun from touching the earth. I stood there, and it was entertaining to my soul—my thirsty soul who had seen naught but the mirage of life instead of its sweetness.

I want to know if this is the same Muto who designed the Japanese garden for Major James Dooley of Richmond, Virginia in 1911. Maymont, the estate named for Dooley’s wife, sits atop a bluff on the boulder-strewn James River, where Muto’s artistic reimagining of the terrain is evident in a spirited cascade with an Azumaya (viewing pavilion) and stone steps alongside, Tōrō lanterns symbolically lighting the way.

I want to know if this is the same Muto who returned to the U.S. for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1914. Who choreographed gardens of quiet beauty for the Japan Pavilion—dwarfed trees and waterways, footbridges and stone pagodas. Or perhaps he exhibited methods of pomology, floriculture and arboriculture for the Yokohama Nursery Company under the great glass dome of the Palace of Horticulture.

I want to know if visitors to the Exposition, like Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison and Charlie Chaplin, lingered at Muto’s display. And if Camille Saint-Saëns was so taken with Muto’s nature poem that he determined then and there to compose new music for Victor Hugo’s poem, “S'il est un charmant gazon.”

I have a hunch this is one and the same person, whose full name, according to the 1914 passenger manifest of the S.S. Aki Maru, was Yonehachi Muto. Who was born in 1861 in Toyko. Whose distinguishing mark was a small mole on his right cheek. Who had been in the U.S. before, from April 1899 to August 1913. Whose son was Sataro Muto of Nakamura-machi, Yokohama. And whose descendants are more than welcome to contact me.

Whether my hunch is right or wrong, there was once a Mr. Muto who traveled to the West and left his distinguishing marks on our landscape. We can see him in the work of his hands where lines are blurred between ancient worlds and the present.


Gibran quote courtesy of The Philosophical Library, Inc.

Chestnut Hill Anchor Institutions Announce Findings from Economic Impact Study
Outlining Local Contributions & Regional Impact

Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders recently announced the findings from an economic impact study performed by Econsult Solutions, Inc., outlining a total of $482 million in aggregate economic impact generated within the greater five-county Philadelphia region. That number is attributed to 10 anchor institutions within Chestnut Hill that drive sustainable growth through job creation, capital investments, visitor attraction, enhanced property values, education, and cultural amenities.  The $482 million annual economic impact is comprised of $360 million in operational impact, $32 million in impact from annual capital investments, $41 million in impact from student and visitor spending, and an additional $49 million in increased property values.

The business consortium, operating as the Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders (CHIL), is a collective of executives from major institutions committed to the advancement of the Chestnut Hill community and continued support of the greater regional economy. Organizations represented through CHIL include: Chestnut Hill Business District, Chestnut Hill College, Chestnut Hill Conservancy, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Friends of the Wissahickon, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and Woodmere Art Museum.

In 2016, CHIL commissioned the local research firm Econsult Solutions, Inc. to convene a study in order to quantify the magnitude of their collective contributions within their immediate local community, and throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Completed in 2017, the Chestnut Hill Economic Impact Study found that the Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders:

  • Support 3,480 jobs with $182.1 million in total earnings (salary and benefits)
  • Bring 317,000+ unique visitors to the region who spend $27 million in Chestnut Hill
  • Increase nearby residential property values
  • Provide community services, cultural amenities, and educational opportunities
  • Preserve 2,600 of green space
  • Generate a total economic impact of $482 million



The study affirmed that the Chestnut Hill neighborhood is a dynamic and attractive destination in which to live, work, visit, or invest. It is a center for education, healthcare, employment, commerce, and recreation – creating economic impact through multiple pipelines.


The Economic Impact of Operational Expenditures and Capital Investments

Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders stand as major centers of employment and procurers of goods and services in support of their ongoing operations. They are also key investors in capital improvements for their facilities and the community. The funds allocated to operational costs and capital investments benefit the local economy in multiple ways. Collectively, CHIL organizations:


Additionally, the economic impact attributed to these two categories yields more than $4.9 million in tax (income, sales, business) revenue for the City of Philadelphia; and more than $8.6 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Economic Impact of Visitor and Student Spending
The Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders also help to attract more than 317,000 travelers to the community every year based on experiences or services offered by one or more of the member organizations. Purpose of travel for these visitors include:

  • Recreational visitors – 310,000
  • Out of town hospital patients, patient visitors, and event attendees – 5,600
  • Higher education students – 1,800

These visitors generate economic impact through spending. On average, students and travelers to Chestnut Hill spend $27.1 million in the local economy per year, distributed across five main categories:

Food & Beverage

$12.2 million


$4.8 million


$3.5 million

Miscellaneous Retail:

$3.9 million


$2.8 million


Visitor and student spending supports an additional 390 jobs within the greater Philadelphia region, with $14.1 million in earnings – generating $41 million worth of economic impact.

Economic Impact from Property Value and Public Services
In addition to the expenditures the Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders directly invest in the region, they also offer significant cultural and aesthetic benefits to the neighborhood and its residents. Known as Philadelphia’s Garden District, the community is a desirable residential destination with attractive amenities, well maintained public spaces, and accessible public transportation options.

Homes within a half-mile radius of one (or more) of the CHIL organizations realize a 2.5% increase in value. On average, homes in Chestnut Hill sell for 136% more than standard homes located elsewhere in the city.

Enhanced property values create a thriving marketplace within Chestnut Hill and significant positive gains for the region. The general state of the housing market within a half-mile radius of one (or more) of the CHIL organizations reflects:

  • 3,600 occupied homes
  • An average home price of $556,000
  • $2.1 billion in aggregate market value
  • $49.1 million in increased property values.

Furthermore, the increased property value yields $310,000 in revenue for the City of Philadelphia; and nearly $380,000 in tax revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Finally, the Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders commit a significant amount of resources to mission-based advocacy and public services – supporting education, environmental sustainability, and preservation. The member organizations provide:

  • $24 million in student financial aid
  • $19 million in charitable healthcare offerings
  • Over 2,000 community service hours
  • 200+ year-round cultural/educational programs (classes, camps, etc.), including Growing Minds at Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and Philartdelphia at Woodmere Art Museum.


Progress and Momentum

Looking to the future, Chestnut Hill is expected to experience marked growth and continued expansion. With more than 125 independently owned businesses thriving in the corridor, and more on the way, the district is poised for progress in retail attraction and business development. And with the completion of the One West mixed-use building in 2016, Chestnut Hill marked the first new development along Germantown Avenue in 50 years – signaling opportunity for innovation and investment. The Chestnut Hill Institutional Leaders are dedicated to a continued concerted effort to foster progress and momentum for their community, and creating a sustainable future for the Philadelphia region.


For a complete version of the Chestnut Hill Economic Development Study and communication materials, visit