Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Arbor Day!

A celebration of trees everywhere: in forests, in backyards, and even in Ulduar raids!

I decided for Arbor Day to refresh myself with some real woodlore: identification of many of the deciduous trees of North America, by leaf shape.

Can you tell one tree from another?

Which of the leaves belong to which tree?
Birch, Black Walnut, Chestnut, Dogwood, Elm, Hickory, Holly, Locust, Maple, Red Oak, Sassafras, Sweetgum (or Redgum), Tulip, White Oak, Willow.

KEY (Highlight):
1 - Sweetgum
2 - Chestnut
3 - Red Oak
4 - Maple
5 - Tulip
6 - White Oak
7 - Black Walnut
8 - Birch
9 - Sassafras
10 - Hickory
11 - Willow
12 - Dogwood
13 - Locust
14 - Elm
15 - Holly

What kind of tree are we most closely related?

Well, our golden leaves have 5 pointed lobes: a star shape like a sweetgum, though ours is a bit "wilty" in that all of the points/lobes brush upwards towards the tip of the leaf. Each of the lobes looks to connect at the base of the leaf, as though each vein is anchored to the actual stem of the leaf at its base.

Some of our spellcasts (such as Nourish) bring about leaves with far more points (7ish) which more closely resemble oak leaves. The barely-visible veins connect to a central vein, like the branches of a stream.

So, at my best guess, we seem to be a sort of gum/oak hybrid.

So what's the real story behind Arbor Day?

There were these druids in Ashenvale, you see, and... well, okay, it was really Nebraska :) His name was Julius Sterling Morton, and he served for a time as President Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture. He felt that both the landscape and the economy would see benefit from wide-scale planting of trees, and so created Arbor Day over the course of his career to increase awareness of the importance of trees.

The very first annual, legal Arbor Day was set as April 22nd, to coincide with Morton's birthday. Since then, the dates have fluctuated, and still vary per state. This variation is due to local climates and weather. In my state, the official day is the second Friday in April... which was technically the 10th (ironically, it was snowing here, then). Nationally, President Nixon set the date to be the last Friday in April, which is April 24th, this year.

Over the last century, the holiday has spread to other countries, including Japan, Australia, India, Iceland, Azeroth, and more! a random FYI, large holly trees are one of the easiest climbing trees available, as they get really knobby with age, and the branches are so spread out that you're unlikely to get hit by the stickers... just make sure to wear shoes when walking up to the tree! Yeah, I climbed a lot of trees as a kid :)


Aertimus said...

I have just been educated. Thanks!!!

Sylly said...

lol nice! I posted on my site yesterday about the etymology and socially received notions of "druid," finding that the word basically means "one who knows the oak." I think we're definitely oak trees of some variety or another. =)

Kae said...

"Golden Oak" maybe :D

With the slated graphical updates for druids... I wonder if there will be a change in the leaf shape, whether they'll keep it oak-like or aim for some other shape.

We may all become holly trees and get a passive thorns buff built in ;)