According to TreeHelp.com, the first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan. Throughout his long and productive career, Morton worked to improve agricultural techniques in his adopted state and throughout the United States when he served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture. But his most important legacy is Arbor Day.
Yesterday, I was reading through The SDSU Collegian, the campus newspaper, and I saw an advertisement for a 5K this morning. It was the 20th Annual Kay Cheever Arbor Day Run for Shade, an early morning 5K (3.1 miles) run around and through SDSU to celebrate Arbor Day. The event was free of charge, and want to know the best part? Participants received a FREE tree for racing in the event. I finished in 25:23, so I would definitely like to cut my time to under eight minute miles. However, I figured for a spur of the moment 6:30 a.m. run, it didn’t turn out half bad. In fact, it felt really good! I dare you to try it sometime!
Anyway, my prize was a Wild Black Cherry Tree. This tree is native to the Eastern United States, west to North Dakota. It is a medium-sized tree, probably reaching 30-40 feet high, and is often used in making furniture. The leaves are dark green in summer, turning yellow to red in the fall. Flowers are white and 4-6 inches long in the spring, followed by reddish/black fruit in late summer. Fruit is edible, but not sweet, and is best for wines and jellies.
I’m headed home today after class, and I’m excited to get this tree in the ground! Happy Arbor Day, everyone!