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The Oak Tree is the National Tree of the United States!

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Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow…and Grow…and Grow

The oak tree has long been a symbol of strength, stability and dignity. Hardy and prolific, more than 600 species of the tree grow all over the world—80 varieties in North America alone. So it was not surprising when, in 2004, after the National Arbor Day Foundation conducted a nationwide poll to determine which tree should stand as a symbol of the United States, Americans chose the mighty oak. It was already the state tree of Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia. Congress quickly responded to the poll by designating the oak as America’s official National Tree.

Although America has now embraced the tree as the embodiment of our national character, the United States is not the only country that has chosen the oak as a symbol of solidity and sturdiness. Many countries, including England, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Wales, and Bulgaria have chosen the majestic oak as a national symbol.

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Oak Trees Live Over 600 Years!

The oak is in the genus Quercus. Almost all oak trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves each year. Although some oaks have smooth-sided leaves, the leaf shape most closely associated with the tree has between five and eight lobes on each side. The most common North America varieties include the live oak, the northern red oak, the pin oak and the white oak. Did you know that oak trees can live more than 200 years? Some, including the famous Charter Oak survived for more 600 years and played a minor role in history. Most species don’t begin producing acorns until they are 20 years old. Although the trees are often associated with rural and pastoral settings, oaks adapt very well to cities and are very tolerant of pollution.

Not only are oak trees valued for their shady, wide-spreading branches, they are also harvested for their hard wood which is resistant to insects and funguses and is used for, among many things, furniture, flooring and the wooden barrels that age wine. In Japan, the wood is used to make drums that are prized for their tone and timbre.

Oak Trees Are Used For Wine Barrels!
The Hull Of The USS Constitution Is Made of Oak!

Wood from oak trees appears in historic buildings. Oak paneling lines the walls of churches built in the Middle Ages. Because of its hard wood, the oak tree has also played a small but pivotal role in the history of the United States. The hull of the Revolutionary War-era battleship, the USS Constitution – “Old Ironsides” -- was made of oak. It was so called because of its ability to withstand the impact of British cannonballs.


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