Oaks ’n’ Folks – Volume 17, Issue 2 – August 2001
The people have selected the oak as their choice for America’s National Tree in a nationwide vote hosted by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Results of the Vote for America’s National Tree were announced April 27th at a tree planting ceremony on the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C. “The oak is a fine choice to represent all of America’s trees, and to exemplify the importance of trees in our lives,” stated John Rosenow, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “People of all ages and backgrounds responded enthusiastically to the vote, which was the first time that the entire American public has been able to state their pick for a national emblem.”
People were invited to vote for one of 21 candidate trees, based on broad tree categories (genera) that included the state trees of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, or to write in any other tree selection. There were over 100,000 votes for the oak out of nearly a half a million votes that were submitted. The redwood, maple, pine, and dogwood rounded out the top five choices. An oak was planted the same afternoon at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the birthplace of Arbor Day in 1872.
“We undertook this vote to remind Ameri-cans of just how vital trees are to us all, and to emphasize the history and grandeur of our trees,” Rosenow said. “By any standard, oak merits the distinction of being named the people’s choice for America’s National Tree.”
Among the many strong attributes of oak, Rosenow cited its diversity, with more than 60 species growing in the United States. “This magnificent tree is significant in sheer numbers alone,” he said, “with oak trees being America’s most widespread hardwoods. From the earliest settlement of our country, oaks have been prized for their shade, beauty, and lumber.
“Oak’s amazing strength and longevity have also made this tree a central part of our history,” he added, “with leaders as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, William Penn, and Andrew Jackson being associated with them. Another early ‘hero’ of American history, ‘Old Ironsides,’ or the USS Constitution, was famed for repelling British cannonballs thanks to its thick, live oak hull. The American people have chosen wisely in so honoring the oak.”
The official web site of The National Arbor Day Foundation, http://www.arborday.org, offers an opportunity to learn more about the candidate trees and the final vote tally for each tree. The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member, nonprofit education organization that helps people plant and care for trees.
Editor: We wish to thank the National Arbor Day Foundation for allowing us to reprint portions of the announcement, which appeared on their web site.
prepared and edited by Adina Merenlender and Emily Heaton