04/24/2009 04:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Cautionary Tale of Trees for Arbor Day (VIDEO)

Dr. Bill Chameides, dean of Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, blogs regularly at

About 137 years ago the first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska. The idea to set aside a special day for planting trees and educating folks about the importance of trees sprang from Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist cum politician.

In 1885 Nebraska chose April 22, Morton's birthday, for the date of its newly minted annual holiday. Over the years, Arbor Day grew from its single-state beginnings into a holiday recognized by all the states in the union. In 1970, President Nixon set aside the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day (more on Arbor Day).

So in honor of the holiday, The Green Grok brings you the story of three American trees.

Editor's note: For best quality, click the "HD" (short for high-definition) button ....

See related article: The Return of the American Chestnut