Posts filed under ‘Arbor Day’

Arbor Day: Alaska

Bald Eagle and Sitka Spruce
(Photo by DCSL)
Happy Arbor Day, Alaska!

Alaska celebrates its Arbor Day the third Monday of May, so Happy Arbor Day Alaska!

Alaska’s State Tree is the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis). The needles of the spruce trees are high in Vitamin C. In the 1700’s explorers and sailors found spruce beer to stave off scurvy. In fact, before an 117 day voyage past Antarctica, Captain James Cook ordered spruce beer to be brewed.

The pleasures of spruce beer were not lost to history. You can make your own, or if you prefer– you can purchase Alaskan Brewing Company’s Winter Ale. It’s made with tender Sitka Spruce tips.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

Alaskan Winter Ale
(Photo by faeryboots)

May 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm 3 comments

Arbor Week: Maine

“Pining” for Lower Taxes
(Photo by faegirl)
Happy Arbor Week, Maine!

Last month, on April 15th, protesters convened on various metropolitan areas to conduct “Tea Parties“. They wanted to make a statement about taxes and decided to name their events after a famous 1773 protest – the Boston Tea Party.

The tariffs on tea imports weren’t the only controversial good of the times. Maine’s State Tree, the Eastern White Pine, was also a source of great unrest and “a major motivating factor for the American Revolution“.

The Eastern White Pine grew tall. It’s wood was strong. It was light and rot resistant. This made the tree perfect for the masts of great ships and it just so happened the British had a formidable Navy they wanted to provide for. All Eastern White Pine trees with a diameter greater than 12″ were claimed for Great Britain. It didn’t matter where the tree was or who lived on the land. The tree was marked with a Broad Arrow and just like that, it was property of the king. Valuable material was snatched away. The trees became souvenirs of injustice and “weighed heavy on the minds and hearts of the colonists desire for independence“.

In the winter of 1772, sawmills were caught violating the law and using the marked trees. That spring, a sheriff and his deputy arrived in the town of South Weare, New Hampshire with orders to arrest the leader of a sawmill. As the two men rested in a local inn, they were assaulted by a group of twenty men. The sheriff and his deputy were lashed. Their horses were disfigured. Then both men and their horses were driven away in disgrace, heckled by the townspeople.

This community’s uprising is called “The Pine Tree Riot“. The date was April 13, 1772– more than eighteen months before the Boston Tea Party.

As rebellion grew into revolution, the first Continental Flag was conceived and was reportedly present at the Battle of Bunker Hill. A reminder of what they were fighting for was included in the design. It wasn’t a teabag on the flag, it was a tree.

An Eastern White Pine.

The Continental Flag at Bunker Hill
Jonathan Trumbull’s Battle of Bunker Hill

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

May 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm 3 comments

Arbor Day: North Dakota

American Elm Leaves
(Photo by gravitywave)
Happy Arbor Day, North Dakota!

North Dakota celebrates its Arbor Day the first Friday of May, so Happy Arbor Day North Dakota!

The American Elm, North Dakota’s State Tree, was a favorite of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead and he wasn’t alone. American Elms were planted along the streets of cities and towns across the nation, including North Dakota!

Despite the presence of Dutch Elm Disease, the city of Fargo still has 7100 American Elms along its streets. Just like with oaks, the affection for the species is reflected in names. Only this time, it is manifested in items named after the tree. North Dakota is home to an Elm Road (Hazen), at least six Elm Avenues (Barnes, Morton, Richland, Stark, Dickey, LaMoure) and at least seven Elm Streets where nightmares may or may not be had (Fargo, Cass, Ransom, Benson, Traill, Morton, Barnes). The state even has a small town simply named Elm.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

May 1, 2009 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

Arbor Day: Vermont

Vermont State Quarter
Happy Arbor Day, Vermont!

Vermont celebrates its Arbor Day the first Friday of May, so Happy Arbor Day Vermont!

In 1949, Vermont selected the Sugar Maple as its state tree due to the large popularity of “sug’rin’“, the act of making maple syrup. Until cane sugar was introduced in the 1800’s, the U.S. got much of its sugar from Vermont and Sugar Maple Trees. In contemporary times, the state still produces its most famous crop. In 2006, Vermont led the nation in maple syrup production.

The fisherman in the show Deadliest Catch have to produce their yields under strict time constraints. Depending on the species of crab, the fishing seasons can be quite short– days even. The maple syrup industry also has to work within a small window of time, one determined by climate.

Sap production is a complex, temperature-sensitive process (Nalini Nadkarni explains it in detail in her book Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees). In order for sap to flow, the maple trees need the temperature to drop to below freezing at night, but get above 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. In 2006, when Vermont collected roughly 19,780,000 gallons of sap to make 460,000 gallons of maple syrup that window, the sap season, averaged 28 days long.

Because sap production is such a sensitive process, there is valid concern about the industry should temperatures continue to rise.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

May 1, 2009 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Arbor Day: Wyoming

Cottonwood Canoe
(Photo courtesy of wanna be davinci)
Happy Arbor Day, Wyoming!
Wyoming celebrates its Arbor Day the last Monday of April, so Happy Arbor Day Wyoming!

Like Kansas and Nebraska, Wyoming selected the Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as its state tree. The North Dakota Forest Service believes “Cottonwoods contributed more to the success [of the Lewis and Clark] Expedition than any other tree!” Indeed, cottonwood played many roles. The bark and twigs were used to feed horses. The inner bark was a sweetener and had medicinal value for humans. The wood was used to smoke and weather proof clothing. Finally, cottonwood trees were dug out to make canoes. Since 80% of their journey was on water, the canoes provided by cottonwood (and later Ponderosa Pines) proved to be valuable assets.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 27, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Arbor Day: Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota…. [Taking Deep Breath]…. Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin….. and U.S.A.

Happy Arbor Day! Today is the national Arbor Day for the U.S. In addition, numerous states have adopted the last Friday of April as their Arbor Day as well. That means there are a lot of trees to cover.

The Oaks

In 2006, Congress made it official. The United States of America had a national tree. The Oak.

The Angel Oak (Photo by zeynep’arkok)

Our nation’s affection for oaks could been seen well before Congress designated a national tree. Keffer Oak, Wye Oak, Emancipation Oak, Angel Oak. Just like a trusted dog, a loving cat or favorite automobile, we name our oaks.

The District of Columbia and a number of states selected an oak species as their state tree, four of which celebrate Arbor Day today.

District of Columbia
Scarlet Oak
(Photo by pellaea)
White Oak
(Photo by Tie Guy II)
(Photo by lyle58)
New Jersey
Northern Red Oak
(Photo by Maggie and Her Camera)
White Oak
(Photo by Tie Guy II)

The Pines

Five states celebrating their Arbor Days today selected a pine species as their state tree.

Western White Pine
(Photo by axelkr)
Eastern White Pine
(Photo by prefers salt marsh)
Red Pine
(Photo by esagor)
Ponderosa Pine
(Photo by keepitsurreal)
Bristlecone Pine and Singleleaf Pinon
(Photo by jb18t)

The Spruces

Two states celebrating their Arbor Day today selected a spruce as their state tree.

South Dakota
Black Hills Spruce
(Photo by ragesoss)
Blue Spruce
(Photo by chefranden)

The Maples

Three states celebrating Arbor Day today selected a maple as their state tree.

New York
Sugar Maple
(Photo by RunnerJenny)
Rhode Island
Red Maple
(Photo by p-h-o-t-o-l-i-f-e)
Sugar Maple
(Photo by poppy2323)

The Cottonwoods

Two states celebrating today share Cottonwood as their state tree.

(Photo by caddymob)
(Photo by georgeogoodman)

The Threatened

Two states celebrating Arbor Day today find their state tree under attack. Massachusett’s American Elm battles the Dutch Elm Disease. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Eastern Hemlock battles struggles against the woolly adelgid.

American Elm
(Photo by Mike Rollinger)
Eastern Hemlock
(Photo by Cornell Fungi)

The Rest

Even with all those other categories, we still have six states left celebrating their Arbor Day today!

(Photo by DarkGuru)
American Holly
(Photo by Noël Zia Lee)
New Hampshire
Paper Birch
(Photo by backpackphotography)
Ohio Buckeye
(Photo by JimmyMac210)
Hertford Tree Memorial - Dogwood Blossoms From Below Virginia
(Photo by Old Shoe Woman)

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm 5 comments

Arbor Day: Colorado

The National Christmas Tree
(Photo by M.V. Jantzen)
Happy Arbor Day, Colorado!

Colorado celebrates its Arbor Day the third Friday of April, so Happy Arbor Day Colorado!

Colorado selected their state tree in 1939. They picked the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a tree first discovered on famous Pike’s Peak.

Although there are a number of species that are popular as Christmas trees, it’s a Colorado Blue Spruce that has the honor of being our National Christmas Tree. It was planted in 1978 at The Ellipse, a garden behind the White House. The tree was 15 years old and 30 feet tall when it first arrived in Washington. Presidents have come and gone and the tree has been a first hand witness to changes in lighting technology. In 2007, after 29 years of service, this Colorado Blue Spruce found itself decorated with LED lights for the very first time.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 17, 2009 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Arbor Day: West Virginia

Final Four 2009
(Photo courtesy of Clifford Salyer II)
Happy Arbor Day, West Virginia!

West Virginia, home to at least one silo tree, celebrates its Arbor Day the second Friday of April, so Happy Arbor Day West Virginia!

After a vote done by civic organizations and public school students, West Virginia selected the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) as its State Tree in 1949.

Sugar Maple is a source of delicious maple syrup, but today I’m going to highlight another use of the tree– sports flooring. Sugar Maple’s traction and flexibility has made it the sports floor of choice for over a century. Nalini Nadkarni explains in her book Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees:

It is close grained, hard fibered, and free from slivering and splintering, characteristics that help reduce the incidence of injuries.

Nadkarni goes on to share a study on handball players which indicates that athletes have a much lower risk of injury playing on wooden floors as opposed to artificial flooring. It should be no surprise then that the species has remained as popular as it is. In 1997, the U.S. alone installed nearly 23 million square feet of maple sports flooring.

Twelve years later in 2009, the wood is still coveted. In fact, a very high profile maple floor was installed in Detroit, Michigan a little more than two weeks ago. Made by Horner Flooring, the floor for this year’s Final Four…Sugar Maple.
Final Four Floor 2009
(Photo courtesy of Ty Hardaway)

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm Leave a comment

Arbor Day: Washington

Western Hemlocks
(Photo by DC SL)
Happy Arbor Day, Washington!

I am a mere eleven months older than my sister, Carolyn. And as children I was a bit… bossy. I would delegate out the roles during playtime, making sure the choice parts were delegated to yours truly. I’ll be Yogi Bear, you be Boo Boo. I’ll be Cinderella, you be Prince Charming. My authority even extended to the tricky topic of love.

One evening after watching an episode of Dukes of Hazzard, I declared my undying love for beautiful and lovely Bo Duke. To my dismay, my sister agreed. She also fancied Bo Duke.

“You CAN’T like him!” I snapped, “He has blond hair and I have blond hair. You have to like Luke Duke.”*

And before I knew it, my sister had a devoted crush on goofy and gross Luke Duke. How crazy is that? I mean, the man obviously had cooties.

Both poised at the top of our nation’s west coast, Oregon and Washington are kinda like siblings. Oregon, as a state, has about 30 years on the younger Washington and apparently has the same amount of influence as I did as a child. In 1946, an Oregon newspaper made fun of Washington for not having a state tree. The Portland Oregonian suggested one:

The Western Hemlock.

Oh there were other trees in the running, like the Western Red Cedar, but in 1947 when Washington made its State Tree official, they picked:

The Western Hemlock.

Luckily for Washington, the Western Hemlock is a great tree. It is the largest member of the hemlock family. Its cambium and needles are edible and it is an important timber product.

Much more palatable than that awful Luke Duke.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

*Thanks to the Hair Color Flip Flop, I do believe my sister is now free to admire Bo Duke.

April 8, 2009 at 10:13 am 8 comments

Arbor Week: Oregon

(Photo by sillydog)
Happy Arbor Week, Oregon!

Oregon celebrates its Arbor Week the first full week of April, so Happy Arbor Week Oregon!

Oregon selected their State Tree in 1939. They picked the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). It was a valuable timber tree in the Oregon Territory, in part for its great strength. The wood is said to be stronger than concrete.

Naturalist John Muir was also aware of the strength of this particular tree. In 1874, he went hiking to witness the effects of a wind storm. Even though he could hear trees fall “at the rate of one every two or three minutes”, he decided to climb a tree to get a better view. He chose a Douglas-fir tree (or Douglas Spruce as he called it). He climbed to the top and hung on as the tree swayed in the strong winds. At times the tree’s top oscillated in a thirty degree arc, but Muir did not worry.

“I felt sure of its elastic temper, having seen others of the same species still more severely tried–bent almost to the ground indeed, in heavy snows–without breaking a fiber. I was therefore safe, and free to take the wind into my pulses and enjoy the excited forest from my superb outlook. “

He stayed in his “lofty perch for hours.”

You can read more about Muir’s adventures that day in Chapter 10 of The Mountains of California.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm 3 comments

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