What tree represents the state of Oklahoma?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Oklahoma’s official state tree

Oklahoma, the land of red dirt and rolling hills, is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Among the numerous trees that thrive in the Sooner State, one stands out as the official state tree – the Redbud. This gorgeous tree, with its vibrant pink and purple blooms, has been a fixture of Oklahoma’s landscape for centuries. Today, it is not only a symbol of the state’s natural beauty but also a source of pride for its people.

History of the state tree designation

In 1937, the Oklahoma legislature passed a resolution to designate a state tree. The resolution stated that "the State of Oklahoma should have an official tree which will symbolize the natural beauty and resources of the state." After much debate and consideration, the Redbud tree was chosen as the state tree on April 25, 1937. Since then, the Redbud has become an integral part of Oklahoma’s identity, appearing on everything from license plates to official state documents.

Criteria for choosing the state tree

To be considered for the state tree designation, a tree must meet certain criteria. It should be native to the state or have a long history of cultivation in the area. It should also be visually appealing and have some ecological or cultural significance. Finally, it should be able to thrive in Oklahoma’s climate, which can range from hot and humid to dry and arid.

The state tree of Oklahoma: Redbud

The Redbud tree, also known as Cercis canadensis, is a deciduous tree that grows up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Its most distinctive feature is its showy, pinkish-purple flowers that bloom in early spring, before the leaves emerge. The leaves are heart-shaped and turn yellow in the fall. The Redbud is a hardy tree that can tolerate a wide range of soil types and moisture levels.

Description of the Redbud tree

The Redbud tree has a twisted, gnarled trunk and an irregular, spreading crown. Its bark is dark gray and becomes grooved as the tree ages. The flowers are produced on the branches and trunk, not just at the ends of the twigs. The Redbud is a relatively fast-growing tree, reaching maturity in about 10 years. It is also a long-lived tree, with some specimens living for over 100 years.

Indigenous significance of the Redbud

The Redbud tree has been an important part of Indigenous cultures in Oklahoma for centuries. The Cherokee people used the bark of the tree to make a tea that was used to treat whooping cough. The Osage people used the roots to make a red dye for their clothing. The tree was also a symbol of renewal and rebirth, as its flowers bloomed in early spring, signaling the end of winter.

Ecological importance of Redbud in Oklahoma

The Redbud tree is an important component of Oklahoma’s ecosystem. It provides food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and deer. Its leaves and twigs are also a source of nutrients for the soil. In addition, the tree is able to fix nitrogen in the soil, which helps to promote healthy plant growth.

Uses of Redbud in landscaping and forestry

The Redbud tree is a popular ornamental tree, valued for its showy blooms and attractive foliage. It is often planted in parks, gardens, and along roadsides. The wood of the Redbud is lightweight and not particularly strong, but it is sometimes used for small projects like carving and turning.

Cultivating and caring for Redbud trees

The Redbud tree is relatively easy to grow and care for. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It should be watered regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring, before the buds begin to swell.

Other trees considered for state designation

Several other trees were considered for the state tree designation, including the Oak, the Cottonwood, and the American Elm. Ultimately, the Redbud was chosen for its beauty, hardiness, and cultural significance.

Celebrating the state tree of Oklahoma

Every year, Oklahomans celebrate Arbor Day by planting Redbud trees and promoting tree conservation. The Oklahoma Forestry Services also offers educational programs and resources to help people learn more about the importance of trees.

Conclusion: The enduring legacy of the Redbud tree

The Redbud tree is more than just a beautiful tree – it is a symbol of Oklahoma’s natural heritage and cultural diversity. Its vibrant blooms and hardy nature have made it a beloved fixture in the state’s landscape for generations. As Oklahoma continues to grow and evolve, the Redbud tree reminds us of the importance of preserving our natural resources and honoring our history.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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