Towering over the Captain Thomas Milton House in Edgartown is an almost 180-year-old pagoda tree, the largest of its kind on the continent.
Also known as a Flame Tree, Captain Milton shipped what was then a skinny seedling in a flowerpot from China in 1833 and planted it in the front yard of his future home on South Water Street. Today, that elegant mansion is part of the Harborside Inn and the tree—now more like a monument—measures 26 feet around the widest part of its trunk, says inn manager Joe Bedot.
The pagoda has flourished in its coastal habitat, as has one of its offspring now growing on the Edgartown Public Library’s front lawn on North Water Street. “Our guests are excited to hear such a romantic story,’’ Bedot says. “And you can’t miss the tree. It takes up all the space where the sidewalk used to be.”