Skip to main content

Lee County contracts with Banyan expert for report on plant conditions

June 20, 2024
By Staff Report

Lee County has hired Certified Arborist Rick Joyce for a survey of the health of the Banyan Street banyan trees. The Lee County Department of Transportation anticipates having a full report on the street by mid-summer, according to Lee County Communications Director Betsy Clayton.

Joyce has a long experience on Gasparilla Island and has an intimate knowledge of the trees here. He first published an assessment of the trees back in May of 2002, as part of a formal Banyan Tree Assessment.

The trees were denuded by caterpillars this spring, but they have bounced back, and the greenery has recovered. According to Joyce’s 2002 report, the street was planted in 1915. They have survived dozens of hurricanes, droughts, graffiti, caterpillars, and all manner of destruction. Today, they are a top visitor draw on the island, and are also the site of weddings, graduation social media posts and all manner of family photos.

The Library of Congress calls the street a “graceful alleé” with “unique tunneled space the trees create frames views of the evening sunsets. The residential street is a popular tourist and artist attraction.”

Top, the street before Hurricane Ian. Here, an archival postcard of Banyan Street from the early 20th century. 
Boca Beacon archives.