Interesting Facts About Arbor Day

Yesterday was Arbor Day, celebrated nationally on the last Friday in April, although some states have their own dates to better coincide with their local climate and the optimal time to plant trees. 

Below are 3 interesting facts:

  1. The origins of Arbor Day

The holiday began with journalist Julius Sterling Morton, who moved from Detroit to Nebraska in 1854. At the time, the wide open spaces of the west weren’t working out too well for pioneers — the shadeless prairie was hot in the summer, with few windbreaks to keep tilled soil from blowing away. The solution? Plant a tree.

Morton rose to become the state secretary of Nebraska, and helped establish the first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872. More than 1 million trees were planted across the state that day.

Arbor Day grabbed the national spotlight 1907, when President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation to school children about forestry and the importance of trees.

  1. We really do need trees

At the time when Columbus landed in the Americas trees were abundant and the East Coast easily competed with the enormous Redwoods of the Pacific seaboard. This all changed when the European colonists came to America and destroyed a significant amount of its trees.

  1. And America's national tree is …

America has a national tree, and it's all thanks to Arbor Day. In 2004, the Arbor Day Foundation hosted a vote for a national tree. The winner was…the oak tree!  The oak tree receive 101,000 votes and the redwood came in second with 81,000 votes. Dogwood, maple and pine rounded out the top five contenders.

In December 2004, Congress passed legislation officially designating the oak tree as America’s national tree.