Healthy Trees and Arbor Day

Blog Category
Discover Nature Notes
Published Display Date
Mar 30, 2020

Note: You can celebrate and help trees from home this year by having the family identify backyard trees, planting native trees, and removing invasive trees.

Arbor Day is dedicated to planting, celebrating, and caring for trees around the country and even the world. More than a million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day in Nebraska in 1872. School children have been planting trees since President Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1907.

Trees are the largest living organisms on earth and help with air and water quality. One single acre of forest can take in six tons of carbon dioxide and release four tons of oxygen. Forests cover one-third of Missouri. Trees are often referred to as nature’s air conditioner for their cooling abilities. The oak tree became our national tree in 2004. Congress passed legislation designating the oak after a popular vote through the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The mighty oak was the overwhelming choice of the people, beating out the redwood, dogwood, maple, and pine. Missouri’s state tree is the flowering dogwood. Missouri celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday in April and National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. You can plant these or help other trees this Arbor Day.

This Arbor Day in Missouri, ID the trees around you with our help! Here’s how to start:

  • Begin by examining the basics – bark, leaves, branch structure, flowers, and fruit.
  • Leaves are the most reliable way to identify a tree, since they’re found on or beneath the tree all year round, as opposed to the flowers and fruit that that often only appear for a few weeks each year.
  • Study the tree for thorns or spines, ridges, buds, and even the odor! Many trees and shrubs are fragrant, or their twigs have a distinct flavor.
  • As a general rule, trees are considered woody plants 13 feet tall or taller and typically have only one trunk. Shrubs are woody plants less than 13 feet tall that usually have multiple stems, and those stems are generally less than three inches in diameter at 4.5 feet from the ground.

Discover more about tree identification with MDC's Trees Work.

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