Started in Spain in 1954, Arbor Day has since globalized to the rest of the world. In America Nebraska was the first state to celebrate this holiday in 1872. Since the 1920s every state in America celebrates a form of Arbor Day. The national day of celebration is the last Friday in April. This year that is today, April 29th. Most municipalities and schools, and some citizens celebrate by planting at least one tree. Are you planning to plant a tree today? If so, add a comment to this post and let us know what species and where.
The Arbor Day Foundation has grown around the celebration of this holiday. In conjunction with promoting planting trees, they maintain a huge nursery of trees and other woody plants which can be purchased directly from their website. Unfortunately they do not include information about the “nativeness” of these plants. Although many are fruit trees, many are also non-native deciduous and evergreen trees and other flowering woody plants. I noticed in particular butterfly bush which Wild Ones recommends not planting since it is not native to the USA.
Since there is federal emphasis right now on native habitat for wildlife, I have written to the Foundation and asked them to add to their nursery plant description whether or not the plants are native to the USA. If you agree with me, please write to them as well. Let’s start a campaign to help their buyers learn the difference between a native and a non-native plant.
Here is the brief statement I wrote in my communication to them:
Because native plants support more wildlife than non-native trees and plants, and because there are several pieces of federal legislation mandating more native habitat for wildlife be developed, I would like to request that you make it easier for your members and buyers to discern which of the plants you sell in your nursery are native to the United States and specifically in their zone. There are many native plant nurseries throughout the USA that would be very willing to help you with this identification task, including organizations such as Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes.
To see a list of moths, caterpillars and butterflies hosted by native trees, go to Native Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies and Host Native Woodies. The legislation I reference can be found at Federal Pollinator Health Task Force: EPA’s Role and also at Summary of FTA Programs under the FAST Act. Thank you for considering this.