Houston Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. While Texas as a state celebrates Arbor Day in November, the City of Houston – the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States – implements its own tradition and observes Arbor Day in January.

Mayor_Parker_and_Téo[1]Last year marked the 27th annual Arbor Day celebration for the City of Houston, sponsored by Apache Corporation, the Memorial Park Conservancy, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

Thousands of volunteers gathered to plant 25,000 trees in four parks heavily affected by the 2011 drought. The project, titled Re-Plant Houston, is a multiyear effort to replace the trees lost in the parks as a result of the drought. Approximately 18,800 of those trees were planted at Memorial Park. This tree planting was unique in that it also was a celebration of Apache having helped to make possible the planting of three million trees at Memorial Park.

“Apache has been involved with the growth of Houston’s Urban Forest for many years. Their continuing support has been even more significant since the 2011 drought,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The planting of their 3 millionth tree in Memorial Park is a symbol of their commitment and of our city’s appreciation for their support of Houston’s Urban Forest.”

Aside from Houston’s 4f1c07616bbcc.image[1]official celebration, several other organizations within the city and surrounding areas held events too. The Woodlands observed Arbor Day with a tree give-away, handing out a whopping 31,000 trees to attendees. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center celebrated Johnny Appleseed with family activities that included making recycled paper hats and a tree planting demonstration.

We applaud Houston’s dedication to reforesting its local parks and greenspaces. Last year’s event reminded us that everything truly is bigger in Texas.

Louisiana Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. With Arbor Day approaching, we take a look back at some of Louisiana’s Tree City USA Arbor Day observances.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer[1]Baton Rouge has made it a tradition to celebrate Arbor Day with family activities at Burden Museum and Gardens. Visitors had the opportunity to plant a tree in the Burden woods, participate in a 5k hike, or a scavenger hunt. Participants who participated in the tree planting were given a card with the tree’s name and its GPS coordinates so they could monitor the growth of the trees they planted. Other family activities included hayrack rides, bonfires, and tree climbing. In addition to planting a tree in the Burden woods, each family left with a tree seedling to plant at home. The seedlings were provided by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.3762611_orig[1]

The city of Lafayette teamed up with Lafayette Garden Club in an annual Arbor Day planting ceremony at a local green space. The Lafayette Garden Club donated the Live Oak tree in honor of recently deceased members and spouses. The ceremony also included a reading of What is a Tree by the Garden Club chair.

NIMG_0323[1]ew Orleans celebrated Arbor Day with a tree planting in Brechtel Park. Brechtel Park features trails, lagoons, shelters, and play areas. The event was hosted by the Department of Parks and Westbank Algiers Garden clubs.

This year the state of Louisiana will recognize Arbor Day by planting 260 Baldcypress and Southern Magnolia along I-49 and LA 530. The trees were donated by an Apache Corporation Tree Grant, and shrubs and grasses donated by TreesAcadiana. The trees will serve as a welcoming sign for those traveling into the state.

Florida Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. Florida and Louisiana kick off the year with state wide-celebrations on the third Friday in January. With Arbor Day approaching, we take a look back at some of Florida’s Tree City USA Arbor Day observances.

DSCN2701[1]Punta Gorda is not only a Tree City USA, but also recipient of the 2013 Arbor Day Celebration Award. Award winners are recognized for their leadership in the cause of tree planting, conservation, and environmental stewardship. The city of 17,000 led a tree planting event involving 300 Punta Gorda first graders. The students learned firsthand the vital role trees play in communities.

The city has also been recognized with the prestigious Tree City USA Growth Award for the past 10 years for its continued progress in community forestry. Punta Gorda serves as a leading model of what cities of all sizes can achieve when they make urban forestry a community priority.

703691_529601900396810_1703913630_o[1]As part of an annual tradition, Orange County, Florida celebrated Arbor Day last year with a tree planting ceremony in front of the County Administration Center. In attendance were the members of the Board of County Commissioners.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs encouraged every Orange County resident to plant a tree to benefit their community and future generations.

Last year the city of Miami planted 100 trees along residential streets. The city partnered with local organizations including The Miami Children’s Initiative, Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Citizens for a Better South Florida, Operation Green Leaves, and Tremendous Miami.

The city has a goal of increasing its tree canopy to 30% by 2020 through its Tree Master Plan, adopted by the Miami City Commission in 2007. The city implemented the “Green Miami Campaign” to encourage neighborhood groups and individuals to plant trees and preserve the city’s tree canopy.

large_4098[1]Tampa celebrated Arbor Day by planting three American Elm trees in MacFarlane Park with the help of MacFarlane Elementary School students. The city’s Tree-mendous Tampa Program was established in 1997 to enhance neighborhoods and help sustain Tampa’s urban forest and shade canopy.

Cities aren’t the only ones with a focus on tree-plantings. The Florida Forest Service is also a recipient of the 2013 Arbor Day Award. The Florida Forest Service was honored with the Forest Lands Leadership Award, in respect to its contribution to conservation and land stewardship. The Florida Forest Service plants millions of trees every year, manages complex ecosystems, and has been aggressive in combating forest fires.  Floridians are setting a great example in growing awareness of the importance of environmental conservation.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

ScotchPine[1]Number One: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

The number one tree on The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees series is the Scots Pine, which is the top selling tree in the country. Scots Pines aren’t actually native to the United States; they were introduced through European settlers and have since been cultivated, especially in the eastern US. Their bright green color, excellent survival rate, and great needle retention make them the most popular Christmas tree on our countdown.  scots-pine1[1]

Scots Pines (also known as Scotch Pine) are a hardy species adaptable to a wide variety of soils. They resist drying, and even when they do dry they refuse to drop their needles. In fact, when kept in water these pines will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Scots Pines grow to more than 60 ft high and 40 ft wide. They are however a slow growing tree, which means it takes 6-8 years to produce a 7 to 8 ft Christmas tree. They naturally grow in an oval shape and are annually sheared to form the Christmas tree figure.

greenscottishfir[1]Scots Pines have high economic value in Europe and throughout Asia because they produce pulpwood —timber used specifically for paper production —poles, and sawlogs used in manufacturing plywood. They’re also popular in reclamation sites because of their easy replanting capabilities, with more than 35 seed varieties commercially recognized.

Interested in buying a Scots Pine? Visit the Arbor Day tree nursery. To learn more about the Scots Pine or any other tree visit our What Tree is That tool.

Take a look at some of the nation’s tallest Christmas trees. Where does your tree rank?

 large

 Missed Christmas tree number two on our countdown? See it here.

 

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Holiday_Plantation_Douglas_Fir_pseudotsuga_menziesii[1]Number Two: The Douglasfir (Pseudotsuga Menziesii)

Number two on our Christmas tree countdown is the Douglasfir. Discovered in 1826 by botanist-explorer David Douglas, Douglasfirs have remained important in American history.  Their tall structure, soft needles, and sweet aroma make them one of the most popular Christmas tree choices, accounting for nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States.

Did you know that Douglasfirs were also a candidate for America’s National Tree in 2001? (Check out the other candidates here.) Although they didn’t receive the title they still demonstrate how connected they are with American history.  They helped settle the West by providing railroad ties and telephone & telegraph poles. They’re the most common tree in Oregon; eight of every ten conifers west of the Cascades are Douglasfirs. In 1936, the Oregon Legislature recognized the Douglasfir as the official state tree.

These trees are quite the warriors; they’re deer-resistant and seldom severely damaged. There are two geographical varieties of Douglasfir (which aren’t real Fir trees): Coast Douglasfir, native to the Pacific coast through Nevada, and Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, native to the inland mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. The Coastal variety is faster growing, long-lived and can grow to be more than 300 ft tall. They’re versatile, growing in a variety of environments from extremely dry, low elevation sites to moist sites.  darvel-at-base-of-doerner-fir-low-resjpg-e3e4f9184ce10a50_large[1]

The national champion Douglasfir tree grows in Coos County, Oregon. It measures 329 ft tall with a crown spread of 60 ft, and diameter of 11 ½ ft ­­­­– that’s massive. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the largest known Douglasfir is in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is 242 ft tall and 13.9 ft in diameter and the only known tree on earth—other than the Giant Sequoia and Coast Redwood— that has a diameter of 7 ft at 144 ft from the ground. What a beauty!

Douglasfirs are also the country’s top lumber source. Their wood is used widely in construction, laminated timbers, interior trim, boxes, ladders and flooring.

The White House features an 18 ½ ft Douglasfir Christmas tree in the Blue Room. Michelle Obama Hosts Christmas Volunteers At White HouseThe National Christmas Tree Association donates a tree for display in the Blue Room every year. Tradition calls for the tree to be decorated in honor of military families.

To learn more about the Douglasfir or any other tree visit our What Tree is That tool.

Missed Christmas tree number three on our countdown? See it here.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Three: The Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)

5338737_orig[1]Next on our Christmas tree countdown is the Balsam Fir. Balsam Firs (not to be confused with the Fraser Fir for their similar characteristics) are adapted to a wide variety of environments from swamps to high rocky mountain terrain, but thrive best in the cold climates of the northern United States and Canada. Its symmetrical spire-like crown, dense foliage and spicy fragrance make it another favorite among the most popular Christmas trees.

Young Balsam Firs have sticky, liquid resin blisters on the side of their bark. Fabies-balsamea-ba-mlovit[1]un facts — the benefits of the resin in these blisters are numerous. To start, it had been sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous fir knots were once used as torches. The resin also features medicinal properties; during the Civil War the resin was used as a balm and applied to combat injuries.

Today, the resin is most commonly used as optical mounting cement for lenses and microscope slides, and can also be found in paints and polishes; talk about the tree that keeps on giving! If you’re ever lost in the wild and surrounded by Balsam Firs be sure to stay near them, they’ll probably be your best survival aid.

Balsam Firs grow anywhere from 45-75 ft in height at a rate of 12” or less a year. Their slender forms fit great in tight spaces. It takes about 9-10 years to grow a 6-7 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree.

Christmas_Tree_2011_33_small[1]The Wisconsin State Capitol building boasts a 30 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree in the center of its rotunda this year.

Missed Christmas tree number four on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

To learn more about the Balsam Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Four: The Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)

FraserFir1[1]Our next tree on our Christmas tree countdown is the Fraser Fir, named after the Scot botanist (John Fraser) who explored the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late-18th century, where these trees are naturally found. Fraser Fir’s have a unique history, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension office, they’re part of a remnant forest from the last ice age. They only grow naturally at elevations of more than 4,500 feet.

The needles on Fraser Firs are dark green on top, and silver underneath, with branches that turn slightly upward. frasier_fir_tree_detail[1]Their uniform pyramid shape makes them an obvious choice as a Christmas tree. In addition to their pine scent aroma, Fraser Fir’s also have great needle retention after being cut, making them practical for families with children.

Speaking of children, a few years back a group of eighth grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, NC started a petition requesting the Fraser Fir become North Carolina’s official Christmas tree. These bright, young minds learned that Fraser Firs were a significant part of the state’s economy. How significant? Well, 50 million Fraser Firs are grown on approximately 25,000 acres in North Carolina (that’s 90% of all of all the Christmas trees grown in the state). According to the NC Dept of Agriculture, in 2009 Christmas trees brought an estimated $100 million economic impact to the state.

As it turned out, in 2005 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation making the Fraser Fir the official Christmas tree of North Carolina, how cool is that!

If you want to experience North Carolina’s natural treasure pay a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC during the holiday season. fraser firThe Biltmore House is known for being one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, and this year they have a 34 foot tall Fraser Fir illuminating their Banquet Hall.

To learn more about the Fraser Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

 

Missed Christmas tree number five on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Five: The Noble Fir (Abies Procera Rehd)

Large-Noble-Fir-300x296[1]Each holiday season consumers hunt for just the right Christmas tree. Every year, 20-35 million living Christmas trees are sold in the US (National Christmas Tree Association). The high demand for Christmas trees has even lead to the creation of Christmas Tree Farms (15,000 in fact), whole farms devoted to growing trees used specifically for Christmas. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of 6-7 feet. So the next time you’re decorating your tree, be sure to appreciate every needle it has to offer. We’ll dedicate the next few posts to the five most popular Christmas trees, starting with number five: the Noble Fir.

2This rich blue-green tree has short needles that turn upward, exposing its branches. As a result, the stiff branches make it a fine tree for heavy ornaments. Noble Firs come in full and bushy to open layered varieties and can grow to more than 200 feet in height. Because they love moist soil, they’re most commonly found in the Cascade Range and the Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest of Washington and Oregon, and southwestern Canada.

traditional-holiday-decorations[1]Noble Firs are also used to make wreaths, door swags, and garland, with a stimulating pine scent that will fill your entryway. When these trees aren’t used for Christmas they make an excellent windbreak or privacy fence.

Looking for a tree seller in your area? Check out The National Christmas Tree Association‘s tree locator tool for a Christmas tree farm in your area. http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/AllAboutTrees/TreeLocator.aspx

Winter’s Icy Arrival Devastates Tree Canopy

With the first series of ice storms pounding parts of Texas and Oklahoma, saying that winter is here would be an understatement. It’s mindboggling to think a few short weeks ago the South was experiencing the peak of its fall foliage. As disheartening as it is, those same trees that shared their vibrant fall colors are the ones most susceptible to the after effects of the ice storm.

52a211092264e.image[1]
Ice Friday morning in Hugo, OK

Steve Houser, president of Dallas tree care company Arborilogical Services, explains, “With the warm weather, some trees were holding their leaves longer, and that made them more vulnerable to ice.”

You see, more leaves means more surface area for ice, which means more weight on branches, causing them to break.  Fallen branches, or whole trees for that matter, pose as a threat to public safety. Fallen trees can block roadways, tear down power lines, and cause other serious damage. The combination of strong winds and freezing rain serves as winter’s favorite recipe for disaster. However, winter’s assault won’t go without some resistance. To restore the loss of trees and help communities replant after natural disasters, check out our Community Tree Recovery program.

The effect of ice on trees is brutal. In fact, ice can increase the weight of branches by 30 times (Dolce, 2013). The snow storm is plowing its way east and icing over every surface along the way. Unfortunately for us, December and January are the most common times of year for ice storms to visit, which means the worst may still come.

ice-storm-flatrock3_650x366[1]
Tree damage from an ice storm in Flat Rock, NC

Although we have no control over aggressive weather conditions, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure that your yard trees survive this winter. Read Brianne’s  Your questions about fall planting: answered! to see what you can do for winter tree survival. If this post didn’t reach you in time to prepare for the ice storms spreading across the country, think about donating to our Community Tree Recovery program to help plant trees and restore hope in areas affected by natural disasters.

Interested in learning how trees make it through the winter? Read Michael Snyder’s How do Trees Survive Winter Cold?

 

 

 

Arbor Day Foundation Leads 2nd Annual Alpha Kappa Alpha Training Session

DSC_0073Walking in to the room, anyone would have thought they had been friends for years. There was laughing, joking and a lot of posing for pictures. No one would have guessed they had all met the night before at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb.

In mid-October nine Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members gathered at Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, Neb. to train for their year-long internship with Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA® program. During the course of the weekend they learned more than how to increase tree awareness and sustainability efforts on their campuses, they formed lifelong connections to each other and the environment.

“This opportunity for fellowship with like-minded sisters is great,” Mueni Loko Rudd from Houston-Tillotson University said. “Learning together helps to better prepare us to achieve our goals.”

The Arbor Day Foundation partnered with AKA in 2012. AKA’s mission is “service to all mankind.” Tree Campus USA recognition requires a tree care plan, service-learning projects and Arbor Day observances. By working with Tree Campus USA, AKA members said they work to improve sustainability efforts and make the planet a better place.

“It’s an opportunity for undergraduate members of Alpha Kappa Alpha to participate in our economic sustainability initiatives and economic stewardship,” AKA President Carolyn House Steward said. “And it’s an opportunity to show others the great work that Alpha Kappa Alpha women do.”

The ambassadors came from different regions around the country, each offering a unique perspective on how trees affect their campus. From Alanna Tremble at Wayne State University in Detroit to Tayler Bolton at the University of Oklahoma, to Tori Williams at the University of California – Irvine, trees hold varying significance.

“Being located in the inner-city, trees are important because they make the campus look nice on top of providing clean air,” Tremble said.DSC_0025

Beautification is also important on Williams’ campus. While there is already a park with trees on campus, Williams said she believes there is a need for more trees on campus to distinguish it from other California schools.

“We’re part of the UC (University of California) system, but we have a park, which is something others don’t have,” said Williams. “So having trees shows something different that we offer when people come to visit.”

While beautification holds some significance for Bolton, shade is key on her campus, located in the heat of Oklahoma.

“Trees are so important because they make us want to be on campus,” Bolton said. “They provide shade. When it’s nice outside we’ll have class under trees sometimes.”

At the training in Nebraska City, the women were taken through the Tree Adventure, an interactive experience to learn about trees and their positive effects on the environment, and learned more about different types of trees, their importance in the environment and how to teach others about trees.

This walk through the Tree Adventure trails included using their senses to connect with nature. Lauren Sandoval, Trees Atlanta education coordinator, led the walk. She encouraged the women to stop and feel the bark of trees and listen to the sounds of rustling leaves, singing birds and walnuts falling. They also stopped and tried to sketch what they saw.

“Taking a moment to sketch was something that was very natural,” Selena Gaddy from Georgia Southern University said. “It’s about appreciating the beauty we overlook day to day.”

Many of the ambassadors expressed an interest in bringing a similar experience back to their own campuses to connect students to the nature around them.

The hike concluded with lunch, apple picking and a tree-planting demonstration. For most of the ambassadors this was their first tree planting and offered them an opportunity to learn how to do it properly and share that with their campuses.

These nine ambassadors will take everything they learned in Nebraska City back to their campus and cultivate dedication to trees that will continue past their year-long internship.DSC_0039

“They can make a difference by getting others interested in environmental stewardship,” Stewart said. “I hope that it is going to be a lifelong learning experience for them.”