Oak is the Official U.S. National Tree

America's Official National Tree Now Legit

Angel Oak Profile
Angel Oak Profile. Steve Nix

The Congressional Passage of the Official National Tree

The mighty oak tree was voted the United States' favorite tree in a National Arbor Day Foundation poll taken in 2001. It was still nearly five years before a Congressional passage and the presidential signing of a historic bill made it official the official National tree of the United States in late 2004. America's National Tree is now the Oak.

"Having oak as our National Tree is in keeping with the wishes of the hundreds of thousands of people who helped choose this striking symbol of our nation’s great strength," said John Rosenow, the president of The National Arbor Day Foundation.

Votes were tallied in April 2001 and results announced on the Nation's Capitol grounds in Washington D.C. The oak was selected during a four-month-long open voting process hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation. From the first day of voting, oak was the people’s clear choice, finishing with more than 101,000 votes, compared to almost 81,000 for the magnificent runner-up, the redwood. Rounding out the top five were the dogwood, maple, and pine.

More On the Voting Process

People were invited to vote for one of 21 candidate trees, based on broad tree categories (genera) that included the State Trees of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each voter also had the option to write in any other tree selection they preferred.

Advocates of the oak praised its diversity, with more than 60 species growing in the United States, making oaks America’s most widespread hardwood tree. There is an oak species that grows naturally in nearly every state in the continental U.S. I have a collection of all the common oaks of commercial and historical value listed in The 17 Major Quercus Tree Species of the United States.

Why Oak Trees are so Important

Individual oaks have long played a part in many important American historical events, from Abraham Lincoln’s use of the Salt River Ford Oak as a marker in crossing a river near Homer, Illinois, to Andrew Jackson taking shelter under Louisiana’s Sunnybrook Oaks on his way to the Battle of New Orleans. In the annals of military history, "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution, took its nickname from the strength of its live oak hull, famous for repelling British cannonballs.

Uses for oak tree wood are of major importance and in high demand as a commercially harvested tree species. Oak has an extremely dense wood and resists insects and fungal attacks because of its high tannic acid content. It saws even and true with beautiful grain desired for building the best furniture and cabinets along with the durability necessary for fine flooring. It is a perfect wood for long-lasting timbers for building, perfect planking for shipbuilding and the barrel staves used for storing and aging fine whiskey spirits.