7 Beautiful Trees Across America
There is a wide assortment of beautiful trees (and tree-like species!) that can be enjoyed all across America.
In honor of Arbor Day, here are seven amazing trees (and one that isn’t actually a tree!) found across the U.S., and the best places to take in their beauty!
Giant Sequoia Trees, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Californian redwoods, known interchangeably as sequoia trees, are some of the oldest and tallest trees on Earth. Sequoias can grow anywhere between 180 and 250 feet tall. (That’s around the height of a 26-story building!) They also are known to live at least 3,000 years.
The largest and most famous of these green giants is named General Sherman. This behemoth of a tree is 275 feet tall and has a trunk diameter of over 36 feet.
These magnificent trees are only found in the western Sierra, located in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This is why more than 1.5 million people visit these adjacent parks annually.
According to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, redwoods thrive in this very specific environment because of its elevation (between 5,000-8,000 feet), mild winters, and the species’ resilience to wildfires (due to tannins in the bark that also protect against insects and rot).
Ponderosa Pines, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Ponderosa Pines are another one of America’s tallest trees. They grow on dry mountain slopes and “mesas,” reaching upwards of 200 feet.
Named for their tough, heavy (or “ponderous’) wood, they are also one of the country’s major types of lumbering trees.
While they are synonymous with the Grand Canyon, they also grow south of Wyoming, on both sides of the Continental Divide, west to Arizona, and the eastern edge of the Great Basin in Nevada, east to Texas west of the Pecos River, New Mexico, extreme northwestern Oklahoma, Colorado as well as in Mexico. (USDA).
Live Oak Trees, Johns Island, South Carolina
Angel Oak is one of the most iconic trees in the southern United States. Approximately 400,000 people visit the tree each year, Angel Oak Park on Johns Island in South Carolina, which is a short drive from Charleston. Angel Oak is estimated to be between 300-500 years old and is considered the oldest Live Oak tree west of the Mississippi River.
Live Oak trees are native to the southern coastal US, and can be found anywhere between Virginia and Florida (but also as far west as Texas and Oklahoma). They don’t lose their foliage in the fall like other types of oak trees, which is how they got their name.
Joshua Trees, Mojave Desert & Southwestern USA
Joshua Trees aren’t actually trees, but they do kind of look like them! These wild, interesting-looking succulents are native to the American Southwest, specifically the Mojave Dessert region. They were named after the biblical figure, Joshua, by 19th-century Mormon settlers, who said the trees outstretched limbs guided them on their journey west.
Joshua Trees can grow between 20 and 70 feet (although it’s rare to find one over 40 feet), and they usually grow 3-9 feet before branching and producing clusters of spiky leaves. They go dormant for a short period during the winter, and then the leaves produce white flowers in the springtime. Parts of the trees are also edible for humans, and their fibers can be woven into baskets and other items.
Yucca moths are the only living species that can germinate the flowers on a Joshua Tree. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, yucca moths “transfer pollen between flowers to ensure seeds will form, and then they lay their eggs inside the pollinated flower. When the larvae hatch, they feed on some of the seeds and the rest are able to disperse and grow into new Joshua trees. This type of interaction, where two organisms are dependent upon each other for mutual benefits, is called a mutualistic symbiotic relationship.”
While extremely prevalent in their region, these “trees of the desert” are under review as potentially endangered species. They are highly susceptible to the effects of climate change since they require a dormant period to flower. The loss of Joshua Trees would be devastating to the ecosystems that depend on them for stored water, shelter, shade, and food for dozens of species (including 25 types of nesting birds, lizards, invertebrates, and a number of mammals.)
Cherry Trees, Washington, D.C.
Thanks to our nation’s first president, George Washington, cherry trees are synonymous with the foundation of our nation. Like his monument, one of the best places to view blossoming cherry trees in Washington, D.C., in the springtime. While they usually bloom in late March or early April, weather can affect the date. That’s why a website called Cherry Blossom Watch was created to monitor and predict each yearly bloom.
While cherry trees do thrive in this Tidal Basin region of the U.S. (and others), the specific trees planted around the National Mall were a gift to the People of the United States by the People of Japan. They were planted in 1912. Flowering cherry trees, or Sakura, hold deep significance and meaning in Japanese culture. They symbolize the dichotomy of birth and death, beauty and violence, and are associated with the “short but beautiful life of the samurai.”
Dogwood Trees, Southeastern USA
Another stunning American tree to see in the springtime are Dogwood Trees. They produce brilliant but fleeting pink, white, or yellow flowers. However, dogwood foliage also turns an eye-catching shade of scarlet in the fall. Not to mention, they are also regarded for their dark, patterned bark.
The state of Virginia is known for dogwoods. Some other great places to take in these beauties are Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn., where large art festivals are held each spring to celebrate the blooming of dogwoods.
Aspen Trees, Colorado & Utah
Aspen Trees are beautiful white-barked trees that develop gorgeous, golden foliage during the fall. They are most commonly found in Colorado and Utah. Aspens are very unique in how they grow together, as well as their ability to stop or contain spreading wildfires.
According to the USDA: “Aspen is noted for its ability to regenerate vegetatively by shoots and suckers arising along its long lateral roots. Root sprouting results in many genetically identical trees, in the aggregate, called a “clone.” All the trees in a clone have identical characteristics and share a root structure. The members of a clone can be distinguished from those of a neighboring clone often by a variety of traits such as leaf shape and size, bark character, branching habit, resistance to disease and air pollution, sex, time of flushing, and autumn leaf color. A clone may turn color earlier or later in the fall or exhibit a different fall color variation than its neighboring aspen clones, thus providing a means to tell them apart. Aspen clones can be less than an acre and up to 100 acres in size. There can be one clone in an aspen grove or there can be many.”