Sunday, February 12, 2017

As Lovely As a Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera
The third Friday in February is Georgia Arbor Day. It is a good day to plant a tree in Georgia because we generally have mild conditions and can usually dig a hole even in winter.

It is also a good day to remind ourselves why trees should be planted. This is a tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera). It provides food for several kinds of birds and small mammals. It is one of the host plants for the Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (state butterfly of Georgia). For humans, it provides shade, beauty, erosion control, and oxygen.

The title for this post references a poem by Joyce Kilmer entitled “Trees,” written in 1914. It's a wonderful poem for feeling good about trees. The well-known first couplet is:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree

The Arbor Day movement itself, of course, seeks to encourage people to plant more trees. The first Arbor Day in the United States was celebrated in 1872 by Sterling Morton in Nebraska. It was picked up nationally in 1907 thanks to a proclamation by Theodore Roosevelt with a focus on educating school children about conservation. Helping school children learn more about the importance of trees is a very fun and rewarding experience, but it’s never too late to learn about why having trees is so important.

American plum (Prunus americana) - host to over 450 different
butterflies and moths

Trees have nourished and inspired men for generations, every year enrapturing new people with their beauty, utility, or life-giving resources. I am proud to be a “tree-hugger” and seek to inspire others to love trees as well. I hope you will take this opportunity to consider the importance of trees to our ecosystem, especially native trees.

Here are some of my Arbor Day posts from previous years:

Arbor Day in Georgia

Plant a Tree for the Future

A Native Tree is Not Just a Tree

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