Arbor Day: A slide show of some of the forest's most influential trees.

Collected images.
April 29 2011 7:14 AM

Celebrity Trees

If Us Weekly had an Arbor Day edition, these A-list trees would be on the cover.

Click to view a slide show.

Nearly 140 years ago, a newspaper editor named J. Sterling Morton organized the first Arbor Day in Nebraska, inspiring residents around the state to plant up to 1 million trees, by one estimate.

But Morton was hardly the first tree-lover. Trees have played starring roles in literature, religious texts, songs, and myths since the beginning of recorded human history. Ancient Egyptians linked trees to particular gods. The willow symbolized Osiris; the sycamore represented Ra. In Greek mythology, Dryad nymphs embodied the spirits of the trees, protected the forests and lived in the leafy branches. The Tree of Life appears again and again in ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Semitic, Baha'i, and Pagan faiths. The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world, ascribes mythical characteristics to a cedar forest.

Today, the tree is a symbol of wisdom, evil, power, and mortality. Harry Potter grapples with the violent Whomping Willow and Dorothy is attacked by an angry apple tree in the Wizard of Oz. J.R.R. Tolkien's Ents and James Cameron's Tree of Souls are wise and beneficent. Shel Silverstein's The Giving Treeremains a favorite parable of aging.

Advertisement

In honor of all branches, canopies, and trunks, we've compiled a list of the most famous trees in the world. They're the A-Listers of the forest.

Elizabeth Weingarten is the associate editor at New America and the associate director of its Global Gender Parity Initiative.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The Simpsons World App Is Here, and Nearly Perfect

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Education
Oct. 22 2014 4:45 PM Welcome to 13th Grade! Several Oregon high schools are offering a fifth year of high school. Every district should consider it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.