Apr 26

Tree lovers unite – it’s Arbor Day! Did you know Arbor Day is over 135 years old? Its roots go way back to the Nebraska Territory of the USA in the late 1850s, but it wasn’t celebrated nationwide in the States until 1882.  A popular holiday advocating for the planting of trees, the first Arbor Day celebration was rumored to have planted over one million trees!

To celebrate, we’ve gathered some of our favorite images in the ARKive collection of tree species from both the US and around the world to show just how extraordinary trees can be. Are any of these your favorite?

Tree on fire

Photo of flame tree

This lovely bean tree gets its name from its vibrant red and yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. If you catch the flame tree at dusk, you may be able to see its fragile leaves folding into its branches. Originally found in Madagascar, the flame tree has adapted to grow in other parts of the world.

Big-trunked timber

Photo of bottle tree

Can you guess how this African tree got its name? In addition to its unique shape, the bottle tree’s sap is considered highly toxic. Add this to its thorn-covered branches, one would argue that the bottle tree was definitely built for survival!

Thorns and haws

Photo of hawthorn tree

Like the bottle tree, hawthorns have thorns that create a protective barrier against animals. Though its bark is dark grey and brown, this tree blossoms white flowers and produces red berries called ‘haws’. A common tree in Britain, the Hawthorns’ flowers bloom in May, marking the sweet transition from spring into summer.

Nuts for trees

Photo of Brazil-nut tree

While Arbor Day is a joyful celebration of trees and nature, it also looks at the issue of conservation. The Brazil-nut trees in this photo were left standing amid deforestation, a widespread threat that has left this species Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. This tree is an incredibly versatile and important plant found in South America, particularly the Amazon. Interested in learning more? Take a look at our reforestation topic page inspired by our recently-released, free online game, Team WILD!

Mythical topiary

Photo of dragon's blood tree

A great provider of shade due to its dense foliage, the dragon’s blood tree is well known for its peculiar umbrella shape. As for its namesake, the dragon’s blood tree is prized for its dark red-colored resin that has been used since ancient times in art and medicine. A member of the evergreen tree family, this species keeps its leaves all year long. 

Large and looming

Photo of giant sequoia trees

The giant sequoia is awe-inspiring because of its massive volume and distinctive reddish brown coloring. Its enormous trunk measures up to 11 meters in diameter!  They may not be the tallest trees in the world, but the giant sequoia is certainly the largest. This woodland conifer is found in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and one of the best places to visit these trees is at Yosemite National Park. Since this week is also National Park Week, now would be the perfect time for a road trip to see sequoias!

There are so many more amazing trees to explore on ARKive so why not have a search around the site today! Or, if you’re looking for a fun, educational experience to celebrate the holiday, why not give our free Plants lesson a go.

Andrea Small, Intern, Wildscreen USA

Apr 24

This week in the United States it’s time to celebrate all things green and leafy with it being both National Park Week and Arbor Day this coming Friday. With entrance fees to national parks across the country being waived, what better opportunity is there to go on an adventure and discover some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife.

Whether it’s hiking, swimming or kayaking that floats your boat, there is something for everyone, and we thought we would highlight a few of our favorite national parks to inspire you to get outside and experience nature.

Glacier Bay National Park

If you want to see glaciers crashing into the sea, orcas hunting their prey or brown bears effortlessly grabbing salmon from a rushing stream, head to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, where the majestic wilderness will keep your jaw dropped for hours on end. At this time of year you may also be lucky enough to see humpback whales breaching.

Humpback whales, two adults breaching

Grand Canyon National Park

Perhaps the desert is calling you, in which case Grand Canyon National Park would be a good call. It is no wonder why nearly 5 million people visit each year, with spectacular vistas of the mile deep, 277 mile long canyon. This terrain is home to the prickly pear cactus, puma and even the Critically Endangered California condor.

California condor in flight, lateral view

Voyageurs National Park

For those of you who aren’t afraid of a few mosquitoes and like to paddle a canoe, head north to Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. This land of over 10,000 lakes is home to a variety of species such as bald eagles, moose, grey wolves, and American black bears.

Yearling American black bear playing

Everglades National Park

If you live closer to the tropical lowlands, check out Everglades National Park in Florida. This significant wetland has been designated a World Heritage Site and provides habitat for many Vulnerable species, including the American crocodile.

American crocodile photo

Shenandoah National Park

Finally, let’s look east to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This eastern mountain range offers plenty of hiking trails, excellent stargazing and of course a plethora of wildlife to view. You might be lucky enough to see the eastern redbud a brilliantly colored tree that flowers this time of year.

Eastern redbud in blossom

Get outside and get involved!

Both National Park Week and Arbor Day are great ways to celebrate nature, enjoy wildlife, and they are entirely free to take part in! Have you been to any of these parks or captured photographs of these or other species? If so, why not share them on the ARKive Facebook page or Twitter feed!

In honor of Arbor Day on April 27th, you could even get your hands dirty and plant a native tree species in your own community. Find out how you can get involved by visiting the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Maggie Graham, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA


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