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Happy Arbor Day!

26 April 2013

Many countries around the world celebrate Arbor Day, or National Tree Day, as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the importance of trees to our lives and promote tree planting and care. April 26th is Arbor Day in the United States of America and people will be planting trees to take part in this annual occasion.


Arbor Day is celebrated in the USA on the last Friday of April, to mark the birthday of J. Sterling Morton, an advocate for tree planting and former secretary of the Nebraska Territory, who first proposed a tree-planting holiday called ‘Arbor Day’ in 1872. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10th 1872 and it was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska that day. Schools were involved in tree planting and parades. During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day and the tradition spread to become nationwide. Arbor Day is now commonly observed on the last Friday of April to mark J. Sterling Morton's birthday (April 22nd) in many states across the USA, although some state Arbor Days are at other times of the year to coincide with the best tree planting weather.

To find out when other countries celebrate Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation website.





Quercus (oak) was declared the National tree of the USA in 2004. 


Ideas for Arbor Day and the coming weekend

  • Get involved and plant a tree!
  • Visit your local arboretum or botanic garden to admire and learn about the trees in their collection. Use the BGCI GardenSearch database to find gardens near you. Across the Northern hemisphere, Magnolias are in bloom and across the Southern hemisphere arboreta are enjoying autumn colours!
  • If getting out in the garden isn’t your style, then why not support one of the tree planting initiatives led by the Global Trees Campaign? The GTC is a joint partnership between BGCI and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to conserve the world’s most threatened trees. Click the icon below to Dedicate a tree to a Global Trees Campaign project to celebrate Arbor Day! 


Here are some examples of how arboreta in the USA are celebrating Arbor Day:

  • The Morton Arboretum, West of Chicago, Illinois, are holding an Arbor Day plant sale, tree planting and storytelling events, and will be celebrating Arbor Day throughout the weekend. Visit the Morton Arboretum GardenSearch profile and read more about their events here: Morton Arboretum Arbor Day
  • The Hoyt Arboretum, in Portland, Oregon, are hosting an Arbor Day Conifer Work Day and the nearby Portland Nursery will be donating a portion of their sales during Arbor Day to support the Hoyt Arboretum. Visit The Hoyt Arboretum GardenSearch profile and find out more about their events here: Hoyt Arboretum Arbor Day

A look into the future:

Next year, Arbor Day will be a memorable occasion in Tanzania. It will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania and the event will be celebrated with the ceremonial planting of a Critically Endangered tree species: Erythrina schliebenii is a beautiful but threatened tree species endemic to the southern Tanzania. The species was previously thought to be extinct, but has recently been rediscovered and is now being cultivated. On Arbor Day and Tanzania Union Day in 2014, seedlings will be planted in the grounds of The State House and in Zanzibar. What better way to celebrate such a special occasion than by planting a charismatic but threatened tree species?

To read more about Erythrina schliebenii, the conservation work for this species at the State House Ikulu in Dar es Salaam and the planned ceremonial planting, click here.

Useful links:

ArbNet is an online interactive community of arboreta coordinated by The Morton Arboretum, the American Public Gardens Association and BGCI, to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier world. Visit the ArbNet website to find out more.


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