hands holding small tree for arbor day planting

Arbor Day and Amazing Trees!

Arbor Day is right around the corner. Let’s explore and learn more!

What is Arbor Day?

The term arbor is the Latin word for tree.

Arbor Day is all about trees. More specifically, planting trees.

In 1854, a man named Julius Sterling Morton moved with his family from Michigan to Nebraska City in the Nebraska Territory. Nebraska didn’t officially become a state until 1867.

 vintage map showing nebraska territory

There weren’t a whole lot of trees there. It’s rumored that he missed the trees.

To fix that, Mr. Morton came up with a plan to have a contest to see who could plant the most trees. The settlers of Nebraska took him up on the challenge.

April 10, 1872, became the first unofficial Arbor Day, based on the contest that Mr. Morton was having.

On that day it’s estimated that 1 Million trees were planted!

 

row of trees to be planted

It became an official holiday in the young state of Nebraska on April 22, 1885. That was the date of Mr. Morton’s birthday.

The trend began to catch on. Within 20 years Arbor Day was being celebrated all across the United States.

Though the day is usually celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states observe it on different dates during the year. This is because the climate you live in determines the best time to plant a tree.

Arbor Day Around the World

Arbor Day isn't only celebrated in the United States. Countries all over the world have their own special days to plant and honor trees.

Brazil celebrates on September 21 with environment-centered activities and tree planting.

The country of Australia has been celebrating Arbor Day since June 20, 1889!

And theUnited Kingdom hosts National Tree Week where whole communities get together to plant and take care of trees.

The concept was introduced to Japan in 1883, quickly becoming a part of their culture, as well.

Trees: Nature's Valuable Resource

  • Trees provide homes for lots of wildlife.
  • Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
  • Trees help to block and absorb sound.

Wood from trees is turned into items like furniture, musical instruments, and is used to build houses.

Plus, trees provide lots of food!

Edibles From Trees

You’re probably familiar with fruit trees. Apples, oranges, pears, cherries-these delicious treats all come from trees.

ripe cherries on tree

Nuts come from trees, too. Walnuts, pecans, cashews, and those little green gems, pistachios all grow on trees. You can even eat acorns from oak trees.

 ripe walnuts on tree

And what would pancakes and waffles do without maple syrup?

Maple syrup is made from the sap of the maple tree. It can also come from birch and walnut trees, too!

When one of these trees is over 10-inches in diameter (that’s how big the trunk needs to be,) people drill a small hole into the trunk and plug it. Then, a couple of days later, they remove the plug and insert a tap.

 maple trees being tapped for syrup

The tap used for getting tree sap is called a spile.

The spile has a hook on it to hang a bucket from. The sap from the tree slowly drips into the bucket. It takes quite a while for the sap to collect.

From there, the sap is filtered to remove anything that might have ended up in the bucket, like twigs or bugs or dirt.

Then the sap is boiled until it reaches that lovely “syrupy” consistency. It needs to be filtered one more time to remove the sugar solids. Then it’s ready for pancakes!

 stack of pancakes with syrup and fruit

Those are the most popular and well-known types of foods that you can get from trees. That’s not where it stops though!

The Muskogee-Creek Indians made a tea from the root bark of the sassafras tree. And that’s what was used to flavor root beer! The leaves can be used to make tea, also.

The inner bark from willow, birch, poplar, and aspen trees is edible. It can be cut into thin strips and boiled, like a pasta. Or it can be dried and ground to make flour.

Then there are pine trees. The whole family of pine trees makes up a group of wild edibles.

pine tree close up of cones and needles

The inner bark and sap have lots of vitamins C and A. It can be eaten raw, or sliced and cooked like pasta. Dried and ground, it can be turned into flour.

The pine nuts can be roasted and eaten.

Even the pine needles can be dried and used to make tea!

Trees are an amazing part of our world. Providing resources for people and wildlife.

You can celebrate trees this Arbor Day by making delicious recipes using parts of trees. Find these recipes at eat2explore!


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