Arbor Day is an annual holiday that celebrates trees. The name, in fact, comes from the Latin word arbor, which means tree. Each Arbor Day, people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.

Arbor Day got started on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Nebraska. J. Sterling Morton, a respected agriculturalist who served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture, came up with the idea for Arbor Day as a way to encourage individuals and civic groups to plant trees. On the very first Arbor Day in 1872, approximately one million trees were planted in Nebraska.

Although National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, many states observe Arbor Day on a different date based upon the best time to plants trees locally. When is Arbor Day in your state? Just click on your state on the map to find out when your state observes Arbor Day.

Why is it important to plant trees? They prevent erosion of the soil, as well as provide a home for a variety of animals. Of critical importance to humans, they also play a major role in producing the oxygen we breathe and cleaning carbon dioxide out of the air.

In addition to these scientific roles, trees are beautiful to look at; and many trees provide fruit, such as apples and oranges. Of course, we also get wood from trees, which is used to build homes and for many other products. Wood also serves as a primary source of fuel for many people.

In many areas of the world, the removal of trees for agricultural or urban uses — called deforestation — has resulted in a variety of damage to the environment. When sufficient reforestation — the planting of new trees — does not occur in these areas, extinction of species that formally lived in the trees can occur, as well as climatic changes due to increases in carbon dioxide levels and adverse soil erosion leading to arid, desert-like wastelands.

Fortunately, many concerned citizens and environmental groups around the world have taken up the cause of planting trees. You can help out by planting your own trees or helping others in your community understand the importance of planting trees.

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    • WoW, that’s really cool to know, Wonder Friend ACT! We bet you appreciate that particular tree, since you have a great view from the top! We are happy you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Heaven! When trees fall, they are quite loud, but there is an old joke that asks if trees will make a sound when they fall if there is no one around to hear it! We are so glad you visited us to Wonder all about trees! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • We’re glad you learned something new with us, Wonder Friend Kakakka! Trees can fall when they are no longer living, but we’re glad you checked out the video, Wonder Friend! Trees are an important part of our world! :)

    • You’re so very right, Nike Fresh! Trees are a very important part of our world, they help us to breathe and create! :)

  1. I liked this video about trees. I didn’t know they got there of arbor. In Spanish they are called (arbol). Well thanks for the information. :)

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed this Wonder, I Like Trees! Thanks for telling us all about the Spanish word for trees– it’s great to learn something new! :)

  2. We need trees to give us paper and stuff like that but we also don’t need trees because it hurts the environment.

    • Hey there, Bella! Thanks for sharing your comment today! While trees often provide us with paper, wood, and logs for the fire, trees are a very important part of our world. They provide homes and shade for animals, and help produce the oxygen we breathe, too. Trees are super important and we wouldn’t live like we do without trees! :)

    • Trees are great for many reasons, and we wouldn’t be able to write on paper without them. What other cool things did you learn about trees today, Kenneth? :)

    • Hey there, Timothy, you did a SUPER job of sharing why trees are so great! We are lucky to have trees, so we have to take care of our lovely planet! :)

  3. Well, we need trees because we use trees to breath. But we also have a lot of fun, like when me and my brother climb on trees. We also love to climb on rocks in Harbor Springs. We once saved a turtle that was trapped in rocks. It felt pretty cool. Now I know that we should help anything that is alive. It’s so fun helping stuff!

    • Hey there, Molly, thank you for sharing your awesome comment about trees! It sounds like you’re doing your part to help keep our Earth happy and healthy! Way to go! We are very proud of you for helping that turtle that you and your brother found. What great Wonder Friends you are! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do we need trees?
  • What is Arbor Day?
  • When is Arbor Day in your state?

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Try It Out

If you enjoyed today’s Wonder of the Day about trees, please don’t LEAVE just yet! Get it? LEAVE? OK, so that’s an old joke, but we still love it! Why not branch out and explore one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member?

  • If you want to try a fun, tree-related craft, try How to Press Flowers Using Wax Paper. You can even use your finished craft to make cards or gift wrap! What kinds of leaves and flowers can you find around your house to use in this craft? How many different types of leaves can you discover on a search around your neighborhood?
  • Want to amaze your friends and family members? Check out the following tree trivia and memorize a few facts you can use to astound others with your tree knowledge!
    • The tallest tree species is the Coast Redwood, which can be found in Redwood National Park in California.
    • The oldest tree with a measured and verified age is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (called Methuselah, after the biblical figure who was said to have lived to be 969 years old) with an age of over 4,840 years.
    • The fastest growing tree is an Albizzia falcate tree in Malaysia. Its growth rate was approximately 1.1 inches per day. In just over a year, it grew over 35 feet!
    • An average mature leafy tree will produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in one year.
    • Dendrochronology is the scientific method of measuring a tree’s age based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings.
  • Up for a challenge? If you really want to celebrate Arbor Day, there’s no better way to celebrate than by planting a tree.  Make sure to pick out a tree suitable for your area and find a spot for it where it will receive plenty of light and water. For more helpful tips, click on over to How to Plant a Tree! If you can, make a video of your tree-planting project. You can share your video with your Wonder Friends by posting it on the Wonderopolis SchoolTube channel. Have fun making Earth a better place!

Still Wondering

Visit National Geographic Xpeditions’ If a Tree Falls in the Forest… lesson to explore the role that forests play in your life. Learn more about everyday products made from trees, as well as some less common products that may be unfamiliar.

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The lesson of tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is never look a gift horse in the mouth!

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