Ohio has 248 Tree City USA communities. Michigan has 111. Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, and was established to recognize communities that are committed to its trees.
More than 120 million Americans live in a Tree City USA community. To see a list of Tree City USA communities, go to www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA.cfm.
The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Neb., resident J. Sterling Morton. Morton, a civic leader, agriculturist, and former newspaper editor, urged Nebraskans to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”
The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920, more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.
The state tree of Ohio is the Ohio buckeye, Aesculus glabra. This native Ohio tree was adopted as the official state tree in 1953. Not to be confused with the Horse chestnut tree, the Ohio buckeye was named a ‘buckeye’ tree because the tree’s large brown seeds closely resemble the eyes of a white-tailed deer. This tree inspired the Ohio nickname, the Buckeyes, a nickname that has been around since the presidential elections of 1840 where William Harrison, an Ohio resident, won the presidency.
The state tree of Michigan is the Eastern white pine and it was chosen in 1955. It lives an average of 200 years and can live as long as 400 years. This pine was known to the Haudenosaunee Native Americans as the tree of great peace, and its needles contain five times the amount of calcium than that of a lemon. Eastern white pines are among the tallest trees east of the Rocky Mountains, and are the state trees of both Michigan and Maine.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs or ways to celebrate Arbor Day can be found at www.arborday.org.