I learned in school that America consists of 50 states, with the most recent being the admission of Alaska on January 3rd, 1959 and Hawaii on August 21, 1959. Some people think there are 52 because they include the territories of Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico but they are not formally states. As a youngster I was school-tasked with filling in a USA map by identifying all 50 states with their capitals – which I could do because I found that kind of school work to actually be fun. Former US President Obama apparently didn't pay attention in school when he later bragged in his presidency that he had “visited almost all 58 states, with just two more to go.” If I lived in one of those two I would say, don't bother coming, and instead spend your time actually perusing an American map.
Anyway, every state has its officially designated tree, while some states such as North Dakota and Massachusetts share the same Ulmus americana, or multiple others with Quercus alba. I have seen most of the trees, although not necessarily in their home location. I've never been to North Dakota, but if one day I can retire I would like to check it out. All of the state trees are native to their state, except Hawaii, for the “Candlenut tree,” Aleurites moluccanus, was brought to the islands by the first people. For those states where I have no photograph I think it would be a worthy project for me to complete all 58...err 50 trees; except it's more complicated because California lists both Sequoia sempervirens and Sequoiadendron giganteum as state trees, while North Carolina just lists Pinus because there are eight indigenous species (hence “Tar-heel” state)
Alright, let's take a look at those state trees.
Alabama: Pinus palustris "Longleaf Pine"
Alaska: Picea sitchensis "Sitka Spruce"
|Arkansas: Pinus taeda "Loblolly Pine"|
|California: Sequoiadendron giganteum "Giant Sequoiadendron"|
California: Sequoia sempervirens "Coast Redwood"
|Colorado: Picea pungens "Colorado Blue Spruce"|
|Connecticut: Quercus alba "White Oak"|
|Delaware: Ilex opaca "American Holly"|
|Idaho: Pinus monticola "Western White Pine"|
|Illinois: Quercus alba "White Oak"|
Indiana: Liriodendron tulipifera "Tulip Tree"
|Kentucky: Liriodendron tulipifera "Tulip Tree"|
|Louisiana: Taxodium distichum "Bald Cypress"|
|Maine: Pinus strobus "Eastern White Pine"|
|Maryland: Quercus alba "White Oak"|
Massachusetts: Ulmus americana "American Elm"
|Michigan: Pinus strobus "Eastern White Pine"|
|Minnesota: Pinus resinosa "Red Pine"|
Mississippi: Magnolia grandiflora "Southern Magnolia"
|Missouri: Cornus florida "Flowering Dogwood"|
Montana: Pinus ponderosa "Ponderosa Pine"
Nevada: Pinus monophylla "Single-leaf Pine"
Nevada: Pinus longaeva "Great Basin Bristlecone Pine"
New Hampshire: Betula papyrifera "American White Birch"
New Jersey: Quercus rubra "Northern Red Oak"
New Mexico: Pinus edulis "Pinyon Pine"
New York: Acer saccharum "Sugar Maple"
|North Carolina: Pinus "Pine"|
North Dakota: Ulmus americana "American Elm"
|Ohio: Aesculus glabra "Ohio Buckeye"|
|Oklahoma: Cercis canadensis "Eastern Redbud"|
Oregon: Pseudotsuga menziesii "Douglas Fir"
|Pennsylvania: Tsuga canadensis "Eastern Hemlock"|
|Rhode Island: Acer rubrum "Red Maple"|
|South Dakota: Picea glauca var. densata "Black Hills Spruce"|
Tennessee: Liriodendron tulipifera "Tulip Tree"
|Texas: Carya illinoinensis "Pecan"|
Utah: Populus tremuloides "Quaking Aspen"
Vermont: Acer saccharum "Sugar Maple"
Virginia: Cornus florida "Flowering Dogwood"
Washington: Tsuga heterophylla "Western Hemlock"
|West Virginia: Acer saccharum "Sugar Maple"|
Wisconsin: Acer saccharum "Sugar Maple"
Arizona: Parkinsonia florida "Blue Palo Verde" (no photo)
Florida: Sabal palmetto "Sabal Palm" (no photo)
Georgia: Quercus virginiana "Southern Live Oak" (no photo)
Hawaii: Aleurites moluccanus "Candlenut Tree" (no photo)
Iowa: Quercus macrocarpa "Bur Oak" (no photo)
Kansas: Populus deltoides "Eastern Cottonwood" (no photo)
Nebraska: Populus deltoides "Eastern Cottonwood" (no photo)
South Carolina: Sabal palmetto "Sabal Palm" (no photo)
Wyoming: Populus deltoides var. monilifera "Plains Cottonwood" (no photo)
Ok, I guess I have an oak, a couple of cottonwoods and a palm to still encounter, plus the “Candlenut” from Hawaii; and, the what?: a Parkingsonia from Arizona too. I have been to Arizona a few times and have probably seen a Parkinsonia but didn't know what I was looking at. The shrub (or small tree) is drought tolerant and provides some shade in landscapes...like over patios. Native Americans used the beans as a food source and they were ground into a flour-gruel. The common name of “Palo Verde” means “green pole” or “stick” in Spanish because of the green trunk and branches. The flowers are bright yellow and pea-like, and they cover the tree in late spring. Can you imagine me arranging and paying for a trip to Arizona just to photographically document this tree? Well, you better believe it, for I will!
I love the 50 unique states in America and of course I love their trees. I just think that if one state declares its official tree as Acer saccharum, as did Vermont in 1949, then New York has no business choosing the “Sugar maple” as their state tree. C'mon, don't deign to copy another – you were beat to the punch. And Hawaii: it's not too late to select a tree that is truly indigenous to your islands. I know that I have a compulsion to micromanage and arrange/rearrange everything, but it would be more sensible and organized and original if I did.