After 225 years, America finally has a National Tree.
May 1, 2001 2:50 AM   Subscribe

After 225 years, America finally has a National Tree. Oak won with nearly 25% of the 400,000+ votes cast over the internet in a 21 way race. Hope your vote counted.
posted by tamim (37 comments total)
It's pathetic that the national tree would be chosen by a method that is not scientific, not democratic, and extremely prone to abuse.
posted by fleener at 3:45 AM on May 1, 2001

Well, at least a Bush didn't win.
posted by kindall at 4:48 AM on May 1, 2001

I wonder why anyone would want to abuse this thing, especially when the outcome is so boring. I mean, Oak is a very fine tree, just that when more people think of oak they can't even recall how the grain looks. I wish it would have been a kind of man-eating plant, this way the US could say 'all your trees are belong to us'. Oak will probably get it's ass kicked by Japan's national tree, the man-eating bonsai.
posted by tiaka at 4:56 AM on May 1, 2001

OAK!!! - that's stereotypically an English tree, Sherwood forest and Robin Hood go hand in hand - sorry, but i thought Americans may have picked their Redwood (2nd place)
posted by monkeyJuice at 5:27 AM on May 1, 2001

What a waste of time. Next!
posted by tenbroeck at 5:33 AM on May 1, 2001

Why would the SCOTUS choose Oak?
posted by machaus at 5:34 AM on May 1, 2001

yawn. nothing surprises me now that we have elected the national insect to the presidency.
posted by quonsar at 5:45 AM on May 1, 2001

i would have picked the dogwood.
posted by ding at 5:52 AM on May 1, 2001

[insert mandatory presidential election joke here]
posted by moss at 6:35 AM on May 1, 2001

The Arbor Day Foundation has become a divider not a uniter. Picking one tree as America's tree will divide support for portection of all trees.
posted by brucec at 6:37 AM on May 1, 2001

This whole "National Tree" thing is racist! Anyone for affirmative tree action?
posted by frednorman at 6:48 AM on May 1, 2001

If given the job of picking, I would have selected the one tree that is distinctly ours and is very much different, long-lasting, awe-inspiring: The giant sequoia (Redwood) tree
posted by Postroad at 6:48 AM on May 1, 2001

I can't even think of an amusing joke.

But McSweeneys is always relevant.
posted by Lirp at 6:57 AM on May 1, 2001

I am liking the Birch. I think the Oak is boring too, but I prefer it to the Redwood.
posted by thirteen at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2001

It should be the sequoia all the way. Only word in English with all five vowels. (And sometimes 'y' (not really))
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:39 AM on May 1, 2001

I did not see Postroad's post before I posted. If we were looking for unique, we could have chosen the tree that is the largest living thing on Earth! The Borg like (and Birch lookin) Aspen Tree.

I believe the Oak is native to America.
posted by thirteen at 7:43 AM on May 1, 2001

I voted for the redwood. Of course there are many different oaks to be found in the USA, and some can be quite large and impressive in specimen form. One thing about the giant redwoods is that they are a California-only phenomenon for the most part while the oaks are everywhere.

Although, it is of note that there are at least two moderately large giant sequoias growing on the east coast, I have pictures of one of them. For those that would like to grow the trees in their own back yard, I know that aesthetic gardens has sold several sequoia varieties.
posted by bargle at 7:44 AM on May 1, 2001

I think we should have picked the bristlecone pine, myself. At well over 4,000 years old, Methuselah is the oldest thing on the planet, and a native of the USA. Oak? Booooooooooooooooring.
posted by norm at 7:54 AM on May 1, 2001

Only word in English with all five vowels.

I assume you're being facetious, SoS. (I kind of like the elm, myself, but that darn Dutch elm beetle put the kibosh on that a while ago, so I'd go with the redwood.)
posted by snarkout at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2001

tiaka, people would abuse the voting process because it's important to tourism to say your region sports the national tree. Maybe it's not a primary draw, but it fits nicely in a tourism brochure.

The redwood seems the natural pick (to me). The redwood is the oldest, largest, most majestic and most endangered tree in the United States. Now consider that the redwood grows in regions with very low people populations, while the Oak grows all over the place. You obviously have lopsided voting. If you throw in ballot box stuffing you have a ridiculous vote made, umm, ultra ridiculous.
posted by fleener at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2001

In other words, MeFi users make think this is funny, but it means $$$ to certain businesses and industries.
posted by fleener at 8:15 AM on May 1, 2001

Dude, I'm afraid the oak is already spoken for, as monkeyjuice pointed out. You'd better have a recount or we'll make you keep Anne Robinson.
posted by Mocata at 8:19 AM on May 1, 2001

I think oak is a great choice. Oaks are beautiful.

But what I want to know is, what would a "scientific" method of doing this be?
posted by rodii at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2001

fleener, you're taking this way too seriously. nobody was stuffing the ballot box. the only ones with an interest in doing so might be the Californians, who pretty much have a monopoly on Sequoias, if I'm not mistaken, and they lost.
posted by jpoulos at 8:25 AM on May 1, 2001

Fleener: The Redwood may be majestic, but it isn't the oldest or the biggest as Norm and my links prove. I will accept tallest.

My wife found this quote, quoted on our page and it seems like it might fit in nicely here

"In those first days, people said, a squirrel could run the long length of
Pennsylvania without ever touching the ground. In those first days, the
woods were white oak and chestnut, hickory, maple, sycamore, walnut,
wild ash, wild plum, and white pine. The pine grew on the ridge tops
where the mountains' lumpy spines stuck up and their skin was

Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Trees are all pretty good.
posted by thirteen at 8:26 AM on May 1, 2001

Usually a governmental designation of a plant (state flower, etc.) means you are not allowed to pick it or cut it down. Does this mean we'll have to turn in our oak furniture?
posted by bison at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2001

The Larch...
posted by Spanktacular at 9:58 AM on May 1, 2001

Number 13... The Larch...
posted by kokogiak at 10:09 AM on May 1, 2001

Talk about a waste of time and energy. That's about the same reaction I have whenever the American public is polled on an issue. The only reason the "oak" came out on top is because more people know of the oak tree than any other. Just because it has that "name recognition" doesn't mean it should qualify for the honor. (Some honor, really.) It's just like asking them to pick their favorite president. Reagan comes out on top simply because he's recent and people can remember that far back. Jesus, but we've lowered our standards. To be simply remembered makes you great.
posted by SteveS at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2001

um... this is just the National Arbor Day Foundation. this is, by no means, an "official" vote for an "official" tree. you'd have to talk to Congress about getting an "official" tree.
posted by tolkhan at 11:03 AM on May 1, 2001

The Sequoia wasn't an option, and some people seem to be miffed about it. At any rate, we're talking about planting a tree in Washington, DC where neither redwoods or sequoias would stand a chance.
posted by swell at 11:12 AM on May 1, 2001

Sorry, the English had the Oak first. Choose again.
posted by holgate at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2001

Why is it that the media in America is bound to two forms of news...bad news: i.e. "rival gangs have shootout in day care center", or cheesey-as-hell stories about squash festivals, or how America has a new national tree?

Is there nothing in-between?
posted by canoeguide at 1:30 PM on May 1, 2001

It's all fun and games here at MeFi as we poke Arbor Day for running an election for a "national" tree. Ah, the joyful sense of participation that accompanies group mocking.

Now that the initial rush has passed and the cross-pond baiting hasn't really resulted in a satisfying flame war, riddle yourselves this -- who else is doing anything to generate interest in trees (thus possibly an interest in protecting said trees) in a country run by a puppet of the energy industries? The VP just announced that conservation makes poor public policy. This will undoubtedly feed into the whole "drill and mine all public lands" mindset that seems to prevail in the search for answers to coming energy crises.

What public institutions exists to counter this kind of thinking in the realm of public opinion? Well, the Arbor Day Foundation would be one of the few organizations working to protect trees and forests. Yes this particular program is a little kitchy, but what about other programs Arbor Day pushes? ADF works with developers to eliminate the odd practice of clear cutting housing developments only to replant the downed trees with saplings after construction, when it is possible to keep the old trees in the first place. They provide innumerable educational programs and materials. They help communities plan developments in ways to minimize sprawl and environmental impact. They give away thousands of saplings each year.

My point? I'd ordinarily be happy that this thread topped thirty comments, but the fact that the majority of the comments were, well, less than supportive demonstrates an exercise in cynicism for cynicism's sake in my opinion. There are many more deserving fish to fry and I think that this example classifies as one of those "if you can't say something nice, it's best to not say anything at all" situations.

«this one's for you, R.S.»
posted by BoyWithFez at 1:42 PM on May 1, 2001

I did not visit the link when I posted before, and shamefully I did not notice the previous thread so I did not vote (I will vote on anything if given the chance). We are talking about trees, and they are our friends. The honor is meaningless, but it is nice that the chosen tree is one we all have access to. I think things like state birds and national trees mean the most to children, and perhaps it will give them pause before they wantonly break branches and tear bark.

Can anybody really hold a grudge against Arbor Day over something like this? Even if they picked a tree out of a hat, they have committed no crime.
posted by thirteen at 3:20 PM on May 1, 2001

I voted for the maple (Canadian ways die hard), but the oak is fine by me. Like thirteen said, this kind of stuff is really important to kids. But, how many kids are able to identify a particular species (or genus) of tree on sight? Not many. So it'll be up to adults to point out that the oak is the national tree. How many adults can identify a particular species (or genus) of tree on sight? Not many. Good thing oaks are recognizable and ubiquitous. Now all you have to do to impress a kid is (1) find an oak (use the leaf shape if you don't have the forest service database memorized) (2) Point at the tree confidently (3) Say (again, confidently), "That's an oak! It's America's National Tree!" (4) Smile knowingly.

You can't hate a group that makes you look smart in front of kids. And besides . . .

. . . look at this! If I pony up a $10 registration fee to join the National Arbor Day Foundation, they'll send me 10 trees and a lilac! For $10!

*iceberg realizes that he and mrs. iceberg are still renting, and thus cannot plant trees in their yard any time they feel like it.*

Aw, nuts.
posted by iceberg273 at 5:59 PM on May 1, 2001

Trees are most definitely our friends...
posted by southisup at 11:12 PM on May 1, 2001

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