The Survivor Tree: A Living Symbol of Resilience

September 11, 2020

Written by Kim Hanou


No one would have guessed that this Cleveland Callery Pear tree would become a symbol of hope and resilience across the world.


From a near mortal wound on September 11, 2001 where it was decapitated,  The Survivor Tree has had a storied and remarkable journey.


The Last Survivor

It was the last living thing to get out of that site.

In October 2001 a wounded Callery Pear tree was discovered by recovery workers in the rubble of the tragic 9/11 attacks on The World Trade Center. The damage was extensive with snapped roots and broken branches. But through the rubble and chaos, one branch sprouted leaves and gave a sign it was fighting for its life. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation took the 8-foot tree to the Arthur Ross Nursery in the Bronx and nursed it back to health. The tree was so damaged no one knew if it would or could survive; however, The Survivor Tree earned its name and in December 2010, it was carefully taken home and replanted at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza.

The smooth new growth of The Survivor Tree post 9/11

Survivor Tree Seedling Program

The Survivor Tree Seedling Program began in 2013 and was created to promote resilience and hope. Bartlett Tree Expert Company took seeds from the Survivor Tree and have propagated 450 seedlings. Students at The John Browne Agricultural High School in Flushing, NY continue to care for the seedlings until they are distributed to recipients.


Each September seedlings are given to three communities that have experienced tragedy. These seedlings are faithfully cared for and their message is felt from Las Vegas to Orlando to France and across the world.

Resilience and Hope

One tree to represent the resilience and hope of a city, a country, and the world. One tree that showed us we are strong enough, brave enough, and caring enough to overcome the worst tragedies imaginable. 19 years later we remember those lost in tragedy but find an inspiring message in The Survivor Tree.

9/11 Memorial Website
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