Buddha reached enlightenment under a tree. Cinnamon comes from trees — as do apples and latex and frankincense, not to mention the oxygen we breathe. As Shel Silverstein reminds us, they're just about the most selfless things.
But still, Arbor Day never seems to get much love. (I mean, think about how nuts we go for other holidays.)
We can actually thank Nebraska for this day. According to Encyclopedia Britannica:
"It was first proposed in the 19th century by J. Sterling Morton ... the editor of a Nebraska newspaper, [who] often wrote acgricultural articles and shred his passion for trees with his readers. There were relatively few trees in the state at the time, and for several years Morton proposed such a holiday to encourage his fellow Nebraskans to plant trees."
The holiday has since been adopted by many states and is most commonly observed on the last Friday of April. (Though, technically, it's possible that today is not Arbor Day in your state, so double check!)
Now, without much further ado, a photo homage to awesome trees:
The Tule tree is a Montezuma cypress in Oaxaca, Mexico. It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world and is on the UNESCO tentative list of World Heritage Sites. According to UNESCO, "the ancient indigenous population considered this tree as sacred," which is why it's also nicknamed the "tree of life."
There's another "tree of life." This one is a mesquite tree located in Bahrain.
Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images
Who doesn't love baobabs? They're just awesome. This one is lit up in South Africa, 2011.
Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images
More baobabs, these in Madagascar, because they really are the coolest. The "Avenue of the Baobabs" was designated as a protected zone in 2007.
Aline Ranaivoson/AFP/Getty Images
The Yemeni island of Socotra is historically famous for its unique and spectacular vegetation; botanists rank the flora of Socotra among the 10 most endangered island flora in the world. The dragon blood tree is unique to the island.
Khaled Fazaa/AFP/Getty Images
One of the most iconic features of the ruins of Ta Phrom in Angkor, Cambodia, is the trees growing through the structures.
David Greedy/Getty Images
Redwood trees, like the General Grant giant sequoia, native to California's Sierra Nevada, are the world's largest by volume — reaching heights of more than 300 feet. The oldest known giant sequoia based on its ring count is 3,500 years old.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Some redwoods in California are large enough to drive through. That's neat.
Three Lions/Getty Images
Don't forget the little trees. The Japanese art of bonsai, using miniature trees grown in containers, has equivalents in other cultures. Here, two women look at bonsai trees in Sri Lanka.
Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images
Of course we have to acknowledge the Major Oak of Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest, near Edwinstowe, England.
Three Lions/Getty Images
Eucalyptus trees, 'cause, duh: koalas.
Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images
Axel Erlandson was a Swedish-American farmer known for his "Tree Circus," in which he grafted and shaped trees into unusual shapes.
Robert Lackenbach/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
The ancient bristlecone pine trees are thought to be the oldest in the world. The Methuselah in California, more than 4,800 years old, is considered the oldest, named after the Biblical figure with the longest lifespan.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images
The sacred fig at the Maha Bodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, India, is believed to be the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
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Now what did I leave out? What's your favorite tree? (Maybe go give it a hug.)