Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Arbor foundation wants national tree

January 7, 2001


— Redwoods hold the distinction in California. The buckeye does in Ohio. In Nebraska and Kansas, it's the cottonwood.

All 50 states have designated an official tree over the years, and the best trivia buffs can rattle off their names.

But what is the official national tree?


While the United States has a national anthem, national flag and national flower, this land of 50 state trees does not have its own official tree.

The same group behind the tree-planting holiday Arbor Day is planting the seeds for a national tree to be named.

The Nebraska City-based National Arbor Day Foundation is asking the country's tree planters, tree lovers and tree choppers to vote for a tree to hold the national distinction.

"As people, our symbols matter," said John Rosenow, foundation president. "Having a national tree will call everyone's attention to the importance of our trees and our natural resources that are ours to care for."

The foundation is accepting votes by mail or on its Web site,, through April 26, with the winning tree announced the next day, Arbor Day.

Twenty-one trees are listed on the ballot for national tree. The foundation dedicated to tree planting and environmental stewardship came up with the nominees from the genera and species of the 50 state's trees.

"One of the special things about the process we're taking is that we ultimately expect this will be a congressionally designated emblem," Rosenow said.

Congress would need to act to make it official something that doesn't happen often.

Joint House-Senate resolutions were introduced in 1990, 1991 and 1992 that would have named the oak tree as the national arboreal emblem, but those proposals stalled in committee. The only official U.S. designations made by Congress are the national flower, the rose, the national anthem, the flag and the national march song, "Star and Stripes Forever."

There is no national insect, fish or mammal. No bird either.

The bald eagle was adopted as part of the national seal in 1782 and has become a popular symbol for the United States, but Congress has never named the stately bird as an official national symbol.

J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day in 1872, and the tree-planting holiday spread nationally.

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