In 2004, the oak tree was voted the Official Tree of the United States in a poll hosted by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Long before the U.S. had a national tree, the 50 states designated different native species as their state trees. Check out a list of state trees for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see all the great trees you can find in America.
Alabama Southern Longleaf Pine
Pinus palustris, or the longleaf pine, was named Alabama's state tree in 1949, but because of the abundance of pine trees it was further specified as the Southern longleaf pine in 1997.
Alaska Sitka Spruce
Alaska's state tree is the Sitka spruce, or Picea sitchensis, and it's the tallest type of spruce tree in the world. It was made the Alaska state tree in 1962 and one Sitka spruce can grow up to 180 feet tall.
Arizona Palo Verde
"Palo verde" means "green stick" in Spanish, which is how the Parkinsonia microphylla, or palo verde tree got its name. The green branches and stems help the plant with photosynthesis because the leaves are so small. The palo verde was made Arizona's state tree in 1954.
The pine tree is so important as a resource in Arkansas, it was made their state tree in 1939. There are four types of pine trees that grow in Arkansas, and since one was not specified as the state tree, technically all four are.
The official pine trees of Arkansas are:
- Pinus echinata - shortleaf pine
- Pinus taeda - loblolly pine
- Pinus palustris - longleaf pine
- Pinus elliottii - slash pine
Since redwoods are now only found on the Pacific Coast, it's no surprise that the California redwood was named California's state tree in 1937. The coast redwood, or Sequoia sempervirens, and the giant sequoia, or Sequoiadendron giganteum, are the two types of California redwood and since neither was designated as the state tree, both are. Coast redwoods are the tallest trees in the world.
Colorado Blue Spruce
On Arbor Day in 1892 a group of kids voted for the blue spruce, or Picea pungens, as Colorado's state tree, but it was officially named as such until 1939. Because of the variations in coloring, the blue spruce is sometimes called the silver spruce.
Connecticut Charter Oak
Connecticut's official state tree, the Charter Oak, is not a type of tree, but a single tree that no longer stands. An important historical document, called the Charter, was hidden in a white oak tree, or Quercus albus, on the Wyllys estate in 1687. Because of its significance in history, this specific tree was honored as the official state tree of Connecticut. It's unclear what year the tree became the official state tree.
Delaware American Holly
In 1939 Delaware named the American holly tree, or Ilex opaca Aiton, as their state tree. At that time, holly was a popular product, especially at Christmastime, and Delaware was the leading U.S. supplier of it.
District of Columbia Scarlet Oak
While it's not a recognized state, Washington D.C. does have official symbols like all the 50 U.S. states. The scarlet oak, or Fagaceae Quercus coccinea, was named the official tree in 1960. Other names for the scarlet oak include Spanish oak, black oak, and red oak.
Florida Sabal Palm
Because it is the most abundant palm in Florida, the sabal palm, or sabal palmetto, was named Florida's state tree in 1953. When new fronds grow on the palm, the heart of them looks like a head of cabbage, so the tree is sometimes called the cabbage palm.
Georgia Live Oak
In 1937 the live oak, or Quercus virginiana, was named the state tree of Georgia. Live oaks can withstand severe weather such as hurricanes, which is why they are some of the oldest trees in Georgia.
Although the kukui tree, or Aleurites Moluccana, is originally from Polynesia, it's become an iconic tree in Hawaii. The tree was designated the state tree of Hawaii in 1959 and is sometimes called the candlenut tree because its nuts were once used to make candles.
Idaho Western White Pine
In 1935 Idaho declared the Western white pine, or Pinus Monticola pinaceae, as their state tree because the best white pine forests are found in Idaho. Because of its abundance in the state, the Western white pine is also called the Idaho white pine.
Illinois White Oak
The native oak tree was named the state tree of Illinois in 1908, but it was later specified in 1973 as the white oak tree, or Quercus alba. A poll of almost 1 million students helped decide which type of oak to choose.
Indiana Tulip Poplar
Despite its name, the tulip poplar, or Liriodendron Tulipifera, is actually a type of magnolia tree. It was named the state tree o Indiana in 1931.
There are 12 species of oak trees native to Iowa, and since all are important resources, they're all included as the state trees. The official state tree of Iowa, the oak or Quercus, was given the honor in 1961.
Also called the Eastern cottonwood, common cottonwood, and plains cottonwood, the cottonwood tree, or Populus deltoides, was named the state tree of Kansas in 1937. Cottonwood trees are either male or female and only the females produce the seeds that look like cotton.
Kentucky Tulip Poplar
The tulip poplar, or Liriodendron Tulipifera, wasn't always the official state tree of Kentucky, which caused some controversy for decades. In 1976 the Kentucky coffeetree was officially named the state tree even though most people had a consensus that the tulip poplar was the state tree. In 1996, the controversy was settled when the tulip poplar was chosen as the official state tree.
Louisiana Bald Cypress
In 1963 the bald cypress, or Taxodium distichum, was named the official state tree of Lousiana. The bald cypress thrives in swamps and looks "bald" after it loses its needles in the fall.
Maine White Pine
Since Maine's nickname is "The Pine Tree State," it's no wonder they chose the white pine, or Pinus strobus, as their state tree in 1945. White pines found in Eastern states like Main are often called Eastern white pines.
Maryland White Oak
The white oak, or Quercus alba, became Maryland's state tree in 1941. White oaks were chosen because of their history, with some trees living as long as 600 years.
Massachusetts American Elm
In 1941 the American elm, or Ulmus americana, became the state tree of Massachusetts. The choice was meant to honor the fact that General George Washington stood under an American elm tree in 1775 when he took command of the Continental Army.
Michigan White Pine
Since they were leading in the lumber industry in the 1800s, Michigan chose the white pine, or Pinus strobus, as their state tree in 1955. Whites pines like those found in Michigan are commonly called Eastern white pines, but that's not their official name.
Minnesota Red Pine
Commonly known as the Norway pine, the red pine or Pinus resinosa, became the state tree of Minnesota in 1953. This tree was chosen because it is sturdy and features a sort of crown shape at the top.
The magnolia flower was chosen as the state flower in 1900 based on the votes of schoolchildren and the magnolia tree, or Magnolioideae, was selected in the same way in 1935.
Missouri Flowering Dogwood
Missouri's state tree, the flowering dogwood or Cornus Florida L., is much smaller than most state trees. It was selected as the state tree in 1955.
Montana Ponderosa Pine
In 1908 a group of students decided the ponderosa pine, or Pinus ponderosa, should be Montana's state tree and the state forester agreed because it was the most typical tree found in the state. It wasn't until 1949 that the state legislature agreed and made it the state tree. This pine tree is also called the Western yellow pine among other names.
In 1937 the American elm was named Nebraska's state tree, but it was replaced in 1972 by the cottonwood tree, or Populus deltoides. Cottonwoods found in this part of the country are often called Eastern cottonwoods.
Nevada Single-Leaf Piñon and Bristlecone Pine
According to their government website, Nevada has two official state trees. The single-leaf piñon, or Pinus monophylla, is a small pine tree that typically stands about 15 feet tall and became the state tree in 1953.
The bristlecone pine, or Pinus longaeva, was selected as the second state tree in 1987 because it's considered the oldest living thing on the planet with trees as old as 4,000 years in Nevada.
New Hampshire White Birch
The white birch, or Betula papyrifera, was named the state tree of New Hampshire in 1947. Other names for the white birch include the paper birch and the canoe birch.
New Jersey Northern Red Oak
The Northern red oak, or Quercus borealis maxima, was chosen as New Jersey's state tree in 1950 because it is strong, beautiful, and has a long life.
New Mexico Pinon Pine
The piñon pine, Pinus edulis, was named the state tree of New Mexico in 1949 and is also called the two needle piñon.
New York Sugar Maple
In 1956 New York named the sugar maple, or Acer saccharum, its state tree. The sugar maple is a great resource for maple syrup, wood products, and tourists in New York when the leaves change colors in fall.
North Carolina Pine
There are eight species of pine trees found in North Carolina, and technically, they're all the state tree. Thanks to Garden Clubs of North Carolina, the pine was selected as the state tree and in 1963 the state legislature made it official and opted not to choose one species of pine.
North Dakota American Elm
Because they are common across the entire state, North Dakota chose the American elm, or Ulmus americana, as their state tree in 1947.
Ohio's state tree, the Ohio buckeye or Aesculus glabra, was officially named in 1953. The tree gets its name from the nuts that look like deer eyes.
Oklahoma Eastern Redbud
The redbud, or Cercis canadensis, was named Oklahoma's state tree in 1937. The beautiful dark pink blossoms look great across Oklahoma and are even edible.
The Douglas-fir, or Pseudotsuga menziesii, was an important resource in Oregon's economic development, so it was chosen as the state tree in 1939.
Pennsylvania Eastern Hemlock
In 1896, Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock suggested the hemlock was the perfect state tree for Pennsylvania and in 1931 the Eastern hemlock, or tsuga canadensis, was officially named the state tree.
Rhode Island Red Maple
In the 1890s a group of students voted for the red maple, or acer rubrum, as Rhode Island's state tree and in 1964 the state legislature made it official.
South Carolina Sabal Palmetto
In 1939 the sabal palmetto, or Inodes palmetto, also known as the cabbage palmetto, was named the state tree of South Carolina. Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island was built from palmetto logs, which helped it defeat a British fleet and inspired the tree as the state tree choice.
South Dakota Black Hills Spruce
The Black Hills spruce, or Picea glauca, is a geographical variety of the white spruce and was not the undisputed first choice for South Dakota's state tree. In 1947, the Black Hills spruce won out over the cottonwood and the juniper trees.
Tennessee Tulip Poplar and Eastern Red Cedar
In 1947 Tennessee chose the tulip poplar, or Liriodendron Tulipifera, as their state tree because it can be found in every part of the state and was widely used by pioneers.
In 2012, the state added the Eastern red cedar, or Juniperus virginiana, as their official state evergreen tree.
The pecan tree, or Carya illinoensis, was chosen as the official state tree of Texas in 1919 and later confirmed in 1927. The tree was chosen because it can be found across the state and is a valuable resource for the economy.
Utah Quaking Aspen
In 2014, the quaking aspen, or Populus tremuloides, replaced the blue spruce as Utah's state tree. Fourth-grade students sparked the change when they decided the blue spruce didn't accurately represent the whole state.
Vermont Sugar Maple
In 1949 Vermont chose the sugar maple, or Acer saccharum, as their state tree. Since maple is the state flavor of Vermont and sugar maples help produce maple syrup, it's no surprise the sugar maple is the state tree.
Virginia American Dogwood
Virginia chose the American dogwood, or Cornus florida, as their state tree in 1956. The official name of the tree is the flowering dogwood, but it's listed as the American dogwood on Virginia's state website.
Washington Western Hemlock
After being teased for not having a state tree in 1946, newspapers went to war trying to choose a state tree. An Oregon newspaper chose the Western hemlock, or Tsuga heterophylla, while Washington newspapers fought for the Western red cedar. In 1947 the hemlock was chosen as the official state tree.
West Virginia Sugar Maple
In 1949 civic groups and public school children voted for the sugar maple as West Virginia's state tree, and it was adopted as such that same year.
Wisconsin Sugar Maple
In 1893 and then again in 1948, the sugar maple was chosen as the state tree of Wisconsin thanks to votes by students.
Wyoming Plains Cottonwood
The plains cottonwood, or Populus sargentii, was named the Wyoming state tree in 1947. In 1961, the scientific name of the state tree was changed to Populus deltoides variety monilifera.
State Trees Represent Values and Resources
Each state tree was chosen in part because it is valuable to that state and in part because its characteristics represent the values of that state. Take your U.S. history lessons a step further and explore other U.S. state symbols like state flags and state birds.