The end of April brings National Arbo r Day, a day for planting and caring for trees, observed on the last Friday of this month. The custom originated in Nebraska in 1872 as a way to encourage people to plant trees on the Great Plains. In addition to National Arbor Day, many states observe their own Arbor Day, sometimes on other dates that coincide with their best tree-planting times.
The United States is blessed with some of the most magnificent forests in the world, as well as some of the oldest and grandest trees. For example:
Coast Redwoods are the world’s tallest trees. They live along the foggy Pacific coast from southern Oregon to central California. Redwoods can grow more than 300 feet high; the tallest grow to more than 360 feet—as tall as a thirty-five-story building. About 95 percent of the old-growth coast redwoods have been logged, but many remaining trees are now protected in California’s Redwood National Park. In 2006, researchers found a tree in the park measuring just over 379 feet tall. Nicknamed Hyperion, it currently ranks as the world’s tallest tree.
Giant Sequoias are the largest trees on earth in terms of volume of wood. They grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Though not as tall as coast redwoods, giant sequoias have more massive trunks. The world’s largest tree, called the General Sherman Tree, stands in Sequoia National Park. Towering 275 feet high, it measures 103 feet around its trunk and is well over 2,000 years old.
Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are among the world’s oldest living trees. Growing at high altitudes in Utah, Nevada, and California, some were alive when the Egyptians built the pyramids more than 4,000 years ago. The oldest known living bristlecone pine, called Methuselah, lives in the White Mountains of eastern California. It is about 4,800 years old.