Hawaii events promote traditions of Arbor Day


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008

Do you remember taking home a little potted tree in a paper cup or tin can to care for on Arbor Day in elementary school? Do you remember carefully watering that tiny tree and planting it, watching for new leaves, new branches?

You weren't alone. Schoolchildren all over the country have been planting their take-home trees since the first official Arbor Day in 1874.

Who dreamed up Arbor Day? A newspaper editor, Sterling Morton, who had moved with his wife to the treeless Nebraska plains, a dust bowl.

He introduced a resolution to the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture in 1872 to set aside a day to plant and celebrate trees. This day was called Arbor Day when it was approved in 1874. In that resolution, Morton said, “;Each generation takes the Earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.”;

President Theodore Roosevelt issued his Arbor Day Proclamation to children in 1907: “;It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the Nation's need of trees will become serious: A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless. Forests which are so used that they cannot renew themselves will soon vanish—and with them, all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood and, at the same time, a reservoir of water. To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state and to live as people, we must have trees.”;

If you wish to continue following in the footsteps of the first to celebrate and plant trees, this is your month. In Hawaii, Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday in November—Nov. 7 this year—with events a week earlier. The date is set during our rainy season, rather than in April, Morton's birth month, when it is celebrated in many states. And, yes, there will be small trees or cuttings to take home from various community sites.

Visit the Arbor Day Hawaii Web site—http://www.arbordayhawaii.org—for a schedule of tree talks, demonstrations and plant giveaways.

This Web site also includes tips for choosing the right tree for your yard, and advice on how to plant it.


A book for the day

“;Sublime Beauty: Hawaii's Trees,”; a new book written and photographed by Jim Wageman, is a perfect way to read up on your favorite trees for Arbor Day. The book, from Bishop Museum Press, provides arresting, up-close photos of trees in Hawaii.

Even post-contact trees that are beautiful, but pesky in competing with native trees in our environment, are given space in this book.

It might help readers decide whether they really want that tree with the outstanding beautiful flowers after learning that they might have to pull up hundreds of seedlings every year to keep them from taking over a landscape or a forest.

Also included in this book are bamboo plants, members of the grass family, and the fleshy members of the bird-of-paradise family that can grow as tall as trees.

A helpful feature is the grouping of photographs into the appropriate categories of status: endemic and indigenous; Polynesian-introduced; post-contact. The category name appears beside each page number so the reader is spared having to search through paragraphs of text to learn if the tree is native to Hawaii, a plant brought by the Polynesians or introduced after 1778.

Literary references enhance the introduction of each tree. The author explains in his introduction that the book is not intended as a guide to Hawaii's trees or a scholarly exploration of the subject. “;At heart, this book is simply a celebration of the beauty of Hawaii's trees. ... Should that awareness, in turn, lead to a greater desire on the part of the reader to protect and preserve the heritage of natural beauty with which we have been blessed, the book will have served its purpose.”;

Some of the trees that will be given away this year for Arbor Day appear in this book: aalii, alahee, areca palm, calamondin, croton varieties, fig trees, hau, kokio varieties, kou, kului, mao hau hele, Meyer lemon, mountain apple, naio, nanu, naupaka, ohai-alii, plumeria, pomegranate, pua kenikeni, red ti leaf, tiare gardenia.


”;Sublime Beauty”; ($49.95) will be available beginning next week at Bishop Museum's Shop Pacifica and other bookstores. Visit www.bishopmuseum.org/press.