The Balmville Tree is an old-growth eastern cottonwood growing at the intersection of River Road, Balmville Road and Commonwealth Avenue in Balmville, New York, a hamlet within the Town of Newburgh. It is the oldest tree of that species in the Eastern United States. It was thought at first to be a Balm of Gilead tree, and lent that name to the surrounding community.
Local folklore has it that the tree grew when George Washington planted his walking stick while he and the Continental Army were encamped in nearby Newburgh during the final years of the Revolutionary War, but core samples of the tree have dated its growth to 1699, well before American independence. Franklin Roosevelt often came to visit the tree. In the mid 20th century, it began to suffer the effects of its advanced age and vandalism. In the mid-1970s arborists recommended it be removed as a traffic hazard. However, community groups led by Richard Severo, whose house overlooked the tree, were able to save it, citing its historic value.
It has thus received considerable protection from the state and federal governments. An elaborate guy-wire system and adjacent metal pole help support it, and it and the small patch of land on which it sits are protected, both by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as a historic site and by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a "public historic park" or state forest, making it New York's smallest at 348 square feet (31 m2) in area. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000.
It is 25 feet (7.6 m) in circumference at its base, and 83 feet (25 m) high. It once reached as high as 110 feet (33. 5 m), but its crown had to be trimmed after extensive damage from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.