You probably know about the largest living tree: situated in the Giant Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park, the General Sherman tree, a giant sequoia, is the largest living organism, by volume, on our planet. It is 2,100 years old, weighs an estimated 2.7 million pounds, stands 275 feet tall and is 100 feet wide at its trunk. Pretty impressive!
But you don’t have to travel to California to appreciate trees – in fact, they are everywhere! Whether they are coniferous or deciduous, they provide food, shelter and building material. They help keep the soil from eroding, block traffic noise and create shade. In the winter, evergreens provide shelter and protection for animals and keep houses warmer by blocking wind. In the summer, trees help cool the hot city by making shade and holding moisture.
Here are five ways to celebrate May 16, National Love a Tree Day:
1. Hug A Tree
Just get out and embrace your favorite tree, or maybe the closest tree. Wrap your arms around its trunk to feel its strength, and if any curious passersby or neighbors want to know what you are doing, you can let them know all about Love A Tree Day and invite them to join you. And you can tell them all about the benefits of tree-hugging. In his book “Blinded by Science,” Matthew Silverstone sets out to prove that trees have numerous health benefits for humans, including improving concentration levels, depression and stress. According to Silverstone, trees can also help alleviate headaches.
2. Get to Know Local Trees
Wherever you live, there are probably trees in your area. Take a close look at a few. Are they all the same? Do they have a round tops, or are they tall and skinny? How about the bark? What is its color and texture? Is it scaly or smooth? How about the buds or flowers? Examine the color and shape of the leaves. Are they flat or needle-shaped? Are they in one piece or do they have leaflets? You can also make leaf rubbings and use them to study leaf structure. There are so many amazing variations in trees.
3. Adopt A Tree
Choose a favorite tree you can visit often and make it your own. There are many special secrets to learn about your tree: you can measure its trunk, figure out how tall it is and how wide its branches spread. You can make bark rubbings, smell its flowers and gather its seeds. Take a photo of your tree every week or every month, and put the pictures in a series to see how it changes over the course of a year. If something interesting happens, like a big snow or a wind storm, go to your tree and see how it was affected. And don’t forget to give your tree a nice, long drink. Watering a tree means soaking the root system.
4. Plant A Tree
Planting trees is excellent for the environment, since trees absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. You’ll feel great about beautifying your neighborhood and providing shade, as well as a home for birds and animals. Not sure what type of tree to plant, or where to locate it? Start by going to your local nursery or gardening center and talking to the experts there. Of course, take good care of your tree and don’t forget to water it.
5. This Year, Have A Living Christmas Tree
If you celebrate Christmas and usually buy or cut down a fresh tree every year, consider getting a living Christmas tree this year. After the holidays, you can plant it in the ground or keep it in its pot and use it again next year. You can even donate it to a plant-a-tree organization. Living trees are becoming a popular choice for environmentally-conscious Christmas celebrators.
Trees provide homes for all kinds of creatures, including birds. I’m thrilled that a pair of Nuttall’s woodpeckers has drilled a hole for a nest at the very top of the bay laurel tree outside my office window, and now they are raising their family there.
Why are you thankful for trees? How will you celebrate them on National Love a Tree Day? Leave a comment below.