Speaking for the trees!

A list of tree-related news and events

July 31, 2011

In the third grade my teacher stuffed me in a metal trashcan. The can was wrapped in brown construction paper, and intended to look like a tree stump. At a certain point in the subsequent outdoor Arbor Day ceremony I was to pop out and shout, “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!” I recall roasting as the sun beat down on the trashcan, and when I finally leapt out, on cue, my teacher was wearing a Woodsy Owl costume, which I found totally disorienting.

Some recent tree-related stories compel me to once again pop up and shout for more tree appreciation. Luckily, I’m not stuffed in a trashcan this time.

1. Missing Moon Trees

As mentioned by Rose Eveleth earlier this month on Scienceline, the hunt for missing Moon Trees continues. In the mid-1970’s NASA sent seeds of Sycamore, Lollybol Pine, Redwood and Douglas Fir into lunar orbit. The seeds were then raised to saplings by the National Forestry service.

The first “Moon Tree” was planted in Philadelphia’s Washington Square in 1976, to honor the nation’s bicentennial. Apollo 14 Moon Trees then started sprouting all over the U.S., and the offspring of these space-babies have even been planted at private homes. As recently as last April, NASA has been trying to locate all the Moon Trees still surviving.

You can find a Moon Tree near you using their interactive map.

2. Appalachian Tree Sit-in

A group called Radical Acton for Mountain People has been staging a non-violent protest for the past 10 days in West Virginia. Members, including one young woman from Pennyslvania, are “tree-sitting“ to prevent strip mining of a nearby mountain-top. Although they will be arrested once they come down, as long as they’re up in the trees they’re too close to the blast site for workers to use dynamite. The protest is purportedly the longest tree sit-in West Virginia History.

3. Important Trees in History

Speaking of historic trees, the Arbor Day foundation has a cute timeline (for kids) of Trees in American History. Did you know Aaron Burr’s treason trial was held under oak trees; perhaps they decided to have court outside that day?

4. Dendrochronology?

Next time you spy a tree stump, wow your friends and family with your tree ring counting abilities, and other “dendrochronology” knowledge.

5. NYC places to see the trees!

The New York Botanical Garden only has one day left of Smurf-fest, but check out their exhibit called “Spanish Paradise: Gardens of The Alhambra” (seen in this awesome short promotional video starring Sigourney Weaver). According to the schedule, there will be Spanish guitar, Flamenco dancing, and Federico Garcia Lorca poetry readings in August.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens NYC native plants exhibit includes a gallery show in which kids (or adults) can pose for a photo with their favorite local plant hero.

And after viewing Vincent Van Gogh’s The Olive Trees at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, you can buy a lovely tree-themed art book called Speak For The Trees at their gift shop.

Finally, the 1972 film version of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax inspired my third-grade Lorax impersonation (see the full movie on Google videos). But look forward to spring 2012, when a new animated adaptation is scheduled to be released, starring Danny DeVito in the title role.



About the Author

Madeleine Johnson

Madeleine Johnson received her B.A. in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in neurobiology from Columbia. She was most recently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her research has focused on the cellular basis of schizophrenia and drug addiction. When not using her brain to think about the brain, Madeleine can be found asking big questions and cobbling together grand scientific theories.


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