Celebrating Arbor Day in Florida

Note to Editor: This year Florida’s Arbor Day, celebrated the third Friday in January, falls on January 18. Please feel free to use the release below, contact Vaidehi Desai or visit arborday.org for more information.

Nebraska City, Neb., January 14, 2008 – Residents of Florida will celebrate Arbor Day 2008 on January 18. While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, Florida, similar to several other states, observes the holiday at a time best suited to its growing season.

The state of Florida has 122 Tree City USA communities. Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, and was established to recognize communities that are committed to its trees. More than 120 million Americans live in a Tree City USA community. To see a list of Tree City USA communities, go to www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA.cfm.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Neb., resident J. Sterling Morton. Morton, a civic leader, agriculturist, and former newspaper editor, urged Nebraskans to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920, more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.

The cabbage palmetto, sabal palmetto, was adopted as Florida’s state tree in 1953. In 1970 the state legislature passed that a palmetto tree should be featured on the state seal instead of a cocoa palm. Known for its many uses, including medicine and food as well as landscaping, the palm has the ability to grow in almost any soil. This palm is also the most widely distributed palm in Florida.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs or ways to celebrate Arbor Day can be found at www.arborday.org.