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Today is Arbor Day in the US. It is a huge event across America with tree-planting activities & celebrations. “On Arbor Day, people are encouraged to plant & care for trees. A wide range of events are organized to promote Arbor Day. These include: communal tree planting ceremonies; proclamations by city governments; exhibitions & educational activities on trees & their importance to local communities & the planet as a whole; & fairs, musical performances & open days in garden centers. Schools are encouraged to plan lessons around the theme of trees. Arbor Day awards are also presented to individuals & organizations across the United States & around the world. These are awarded for outstanding service to trees, forestry or related ecological themes. All states in the US now have an official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that is has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees.” http://bit.ly/idj8zq
The American people love & respect their trees & prepare for months for this occasion. In 2011 8-million trees were planted by volunteers across the US.
Just this morning I was given the chorus of a song sung at school for Arbor Day in the US – “trees…. trees…. beautiful trees…. plant them & help them grow. Care is repaid by cool green shade….. trees…. beautiful trees….” When you grow up singing words like this & actively celebrating trees with the adult community, love & respect for trees becomes a natural part of your culture. http://www.arborday.org/
To celebrate & acknowledge Arbor Day, this Postcard from Elsewhere pays homage to a special Sassafras tree living in Owensboro Kentucky.
Reading the word sassafras instantly transports me back to early primary school. For some unknown reason the word sassafras was a favourite along with the spelling of Mississipi. Remember Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs double-S I? Sassafras was a swear word for 8-year-olds. Worst was when we hissed the word accentuating the sss-sound. Even as I write the word I can remember the feeling shouting sassafras at others. When I got older I learnt it was the name of a tree, but it was only today that I learnt that this tree is an ingredient of root beer, something I’ve not tasted yet.
Earlier this year, one of my friends on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/savingourtrees Janice Atkinson-Kiesel sent me a couple of photos of her favourite tree. It is a street tree &
coincidentally, the world’s largest Sassafras tree. That such a large & important tree is a street tree is amazing to me. I can’t imagine any street tree in Marrickville LGA being allowed to grow for so long or to become as large as this one, but then again, America has a different attitude & approach to street trees & trees as a whole.
Owensboro’s Sassafras tree is a historic landmark tree & stands over 30.48 metres tall (100 ft). It has a girth of 6.4metres (21 ft). As a comparison, most Sassafras grow to between 9-15 metres (30-50 ft) so this Sassafras is just over double the average height of this species of tree.
Remember it is a street tree so will have had to cope with all the obstacles & hazards associated with being a street tree & it has been doing this for around 300-years.
It was to be chopped down in 1957 because the authorities wanted to widen the road (reminds me of the current battle to save the historic trees along King George V Avenue in Tamworth – http://bit.ly/Hz40zH ). However, a rather spunky woman called Grace Rush prevented this from happening by standing under the tree pointing a gun at anyone who came close. Eventually the Governor stepped in, supported Grace & the tree was saved. 53-years later & it is still alive, healthy & growing well. Grace would have been really happy about this.
Sassafras trees are unusual because they produce 3 differently shaped leaves – ovate, 1-lobed & 3-lobed. The leaves, bark & small branches taste nice, which is why they are used as ingredients to make root beer. The leaves smell like citrus if crushed. Many wild animals eat the leaves & wild rabbits nibble on the bark in winter. Birds love the red berries produced by the tree.
You can watch a 25-second video of the Owensboro Kentucky Sassafras tree taken during the warmer months when it has leaves here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMN6I29lxCs
So Happy Arbor Day America. I love what you do about trees. Thank you Janice for sharing this wonderful street tree with me.
The Tamworth community is campaigning against a DA that will require the removal of 50 English Oak trees that line King George V Avenue so that the pubic road can be widened for the Peel River Estate, a proposed 500-house residential development at Calala. On 28th February 2012 Tamworth Councillors unanimously approved a draft plan to chop down these trees. 10 old River red gums aged at least 200-years-old will also be removed. http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/news/local/news/general/new-branch-in-tamworth-tree-fight/2479590.aspx
A petition of more than 7,000 signatures against the removal of these trees was tabled & 200 plus submissions to Tamworth Regional Council were received from the community.
The DA is on public exhibition while a traffic study, a revised concept plan & development controls is being prepared.
The community planted these trees in 1936 as a memorial to King George V & they form the longest continuous canopy of English Oak trees in Australia. As such they have heritage value to both the people of Tamworth & of Australia. I find it very sad that the removal of these trees is even being considered.
The community want Tamworth Regional Council to “recognise the historical & cultural importance of King George V Avenue to the Tamworth community by:-
1. listing the 76 year old English oak tree avenue as a heritage item on the Local Environment Plan
2. putting into practice the recommended procedures for the care & management of the trees
3. abandoning all proposals to remove any of the trees & the widening of the road
4. using the alternative route for access to Calala & upgrading Calala Lane.”
You can help the community in their campaign to save these trees by signing their petition here - http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/save-king-george-v-avenue?time=1332765369