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April 18, 2014

National Arbor Day tree planting to take place April 25

This year marks the 142nd anniversary of Arbor Day, which was started by Julius Sterling Morton on Jan. 4, 1872 as a tree-planting holiday. 

Morton moved from Detroit to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 where he was a journalist and became the editor of the Nebraska City News. In Nebraska, trees were fairly rare, so Morton, using his editorial post, encourage people to plant trees and learn about the importance of trees as windbreaks to prevent soil erosion, for fuel and building materials and for shade.

MSU is celebrating by planting a 15-foot tall Norway spruce (Picea abies) at noon April 25 at the MSU Union.

The Norway spruce to be planted was grown from seeds received from the Arboretum Novy Dvur, Czech Republic in 1993. This new tree will replace a large historic Norway spruce originally planted in 1865 that was lost during a windstorm in November. 

Similar to J. Sterling Morton, MSU professor William J. Beal was an advocate for tree planting and conservation in Michigan. Beal planted many trees on the MSU campus and around the state.

With regard to planting trees, Beal wrote: “Talk as you please, only plant trees, or let them grow where nature sows the seed.”

For more information, contact Frank Telewski, curator of MSU's W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum, at or (517) 884-0764.