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

  • Rajiv (April 30th, 2013 at 9:15 am):

    The Empoyer Penguine photos are excellent