Arbor Day observance dates in the United States vary every spring depending upon the climate for tree planting.

Sunriver, Oregon, is the only unincorporated community in the United States to receive its 36th year award as a Tree City.

Trees provide shelter, homes, and nourishment for humans and wildlife. Trees improve air quality.

The ballad of Johnny Appleseed sparked my interest as a young girl in the benefit of trees. Born John Chapman, May 11, 1768, on a Springfield, Massachusetts farm, he decided to become an “apple missionary” after visiting his uncle in Olean, New York. At age 20, he gathered seeds from cider mills and traveled 40 years planting apple nurseries in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, southern Michigan, and Illinois. Indians called him a great medicine man because he planted healing herbs. Johnny Appleseed Chapman lived 75 years and is buried at Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Gravenstein apple orchard, Sebastopol, California

Gravenstein Apple Orchard, Sebastopol, California

Notable trees in California include:

  • A Mediterranean sweet orange, planted in 1856, known as Oroville’s (Butte County) Mother Orange Tree;
  • Riverside is the home of the first navel orange tree planted in 1873;
  • Santa Barbara’s 1877 Moreton Bay fig tree shades 10,000 people under its spread;
  • An 1890 macadamia nut tree in Placentia (Orange County) is the oldest of its kind in California.

In addition to the land of fruits and nuts, California is home to the world’s oldest, tallest, and largest trees.

The community of Live Oak in Sutter County is the namesake of the oak planted there in 1776.

Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane in Los Angeles County is lined with 135 deodar cedars planted in 1885.

The coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, grows naturally only in a narrow strip along the Pacific coast. It is the tallest living thing in the world with a 367-foot height, 12-inch thick bark, 5-foot diameter branches and a 22-foot diameter base. It may survive 2,000 years.

car drive-thru, Redwood National Park, Humboldt County

Redwood National Park, Humboldt County

The giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, also known as the Sierra redwood and the Big Tree, grows naturally only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. It is the largest living thing in the world with a 275-foot height, bark up to 31 inches thick, branches to 8 feet diameter, and bases to 40 feet diameter. It may survive 3,200 years.

The General Grant tree, a giant sequoia measuring 40 feet across, in Kings Canyon National Park, was designated “The Nation’s Christmas Tree” on April 28, 1926. Every year since, a yuletide celebration is held there the second Sunday in December.

Mark Twain Stump, Big Stump Basin, Sequoia National Park

Mark Twain Stump, Big Stump Basin, Sequoia National Park

The world’s oldest living thing, the bristlecone pine, Pinus aristata, continues to survive for more than 4,600 years in the White Mountains in Inyo County.

In 1788, Johnny Appleseed carried a bag of apple seeds slung over one shoulder. In 1971, Stuart Roosa, Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot, filled a metal canister in his personal travel kit with 500 seeds from Douglas fir, pine, redwood, sweetgum, and sycamore trees to orbit around the Moon. Roosa, a former smoke jumper, was contacted by Ed Cliff, Chief of the Forest Service at that time, for an experiment to learn how seeds would survive zero gravity, radiation, and other perils of traveling beyond Earth.

Nearly all the seeds germinated after the flight. The Forest Service planted 420 seedlings alongside their earth-bound counterparts and found no difference between the two. “Moon” trees  donated to be planted as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration in1976 survive in 20 states. Only two states, California and Oregon, received a moon tree that happened to be their state tree.

California’s coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) grows in Sacramento’s Capitol Park;  Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo; Friendly Plaza, Monterey; Tilden Park, Berkeley; and Humboldt State University, Arcata.

Oregon’s Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) grows at the Capitol building in Salem; Oregon State University, Peavy Hall, Corvallis; U.S. Veterans Hospital, Roseburg; and University of Oregon, Eugene. (The Douglas fir/moon tree planted in 1976 was moved in 1980 to Erb Memorial Union.)

Life, like the land, is barren without trees.





About Lynne Schaefer

Lynne Schaefer has written two newspaper columns ("The Schussboomer" about skiing in California, and "Notes from Lynne's Journal" about Oregon wildlife); travel and garden articles for regional magazines copy for DVD tours of the High Desert Museum and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, both in Bend, Oregon. She has published three non-fiction books, A Traveler's Guide to Historic California, Christmas Trivia Quiz, and His Daughter's Remembrance.
This entry was posted in California History, History, Human Interest, Oregon History, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ARBOR DAY

  1. Martha Blowe says:

    Very interesting to learn about Arbor Day and the history of Johnny Appleseed ! Thanks for all your work Lynne !


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