Historical trees explained

The Charter Oak
In 1687 when the king of England demanded the return of their Charter from the New England Colonies the Colonial Assembly hid it in a cavity of an oak tree. This tree became known as the Charter Oak. The tree was blown down August 21, 1856. An acorn from that tree was planted in Hartford, Connecticut and this tree is a descendant of the original.

Joan-of-Arc Willow
In May, 1919 a willow tree was taken from the birthplace of Jeanne D'Arc located at Domremy Haute Marne, France and sent to the University of Wisconsin. The tree was accompanied by a letter from General John J. Pershing which said in part,

"Let us hope that to the school children of Wisconsin these trees typify, by their strength and stature, the life force and ideas of their fathers, the American Soldier, who crossed the ocean and gained victory that their children might be free."

Joan-of-Arc (1412 - 1431), called "The Maid of Orleans", heard divine "voices" under the willow tree over five centuries ago. She raised an army to fight the British, was captured, tried for witchcraft and heresy, was burned at the stake and was made a saint 489 years later in 1920. This tree is a descendant of the original, with sprouts taken from a tree in Wellen, Wisconsin in 1988.

The Buckingham Palace Plane Tree
The Buckingham Palace Plane tree is growing on the grounds of Buckingham Palace just below the Queen's bed room. Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 for George III. It is the customary residence of the British sovereigns.

The Isaac Newton Apple Tree(Malus Pumila)
At the National Bureau of Standards site in Washington, D.C., there is a plaque that reads:
"Isaac Newton Apple Tree"

'Science has its traditions as well as its frontiers'

"This fruit tree is a direct descendant of the original tree whose fruit gave inspirational impetus to Isaac Newton's theory of gravitational forces. It was nurtured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and transplanted here on the grounds of the National Bureau of Standards, April, 1966".


The original tree is said to have died in 1815, but before it died, according to the late Mr. Christopher Turner into whose family the Manor of Woolsthorpe passed, grafts were taken from the tree, and the resulting progeny found a home in Lord Brownlow's kitchen garden at Belton. It is from this tree at Belton that the trees at East Malling Research Station were propagated in 1940.

Johnny Appleseed Tree (Malus Pumila)
Many believe that Johnny Appleseed is a fictional character, but he was real - John Chapman (1775-1845). He belonged to a mystical Swedish Religion and when his wife died at an early age he took that as a sign from God that he should spend the rest of his life planting trees. He spent the next 40 years in the wilderness (what is now Ohio, Indiana, & Illinois) planting fruit trees so that the early settlers would have food awaiting them. One of his apple trees is still growing i a school yard in Lima, Ohio and this tree is from its seeds.

The Ann Rutledge Maple Tree (Acer Saccharum)
The Ann Rutledge maple tree shades they grave of Ann Rutledge who is buried in a cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois. Ann Rutledge who died at an early age and who was a sweetheart of Abraham Lincoln was believed by many to have affected the life of Abraham Lincoln and was responsible for his melancholy disposition. The following is an epitaph on her gravestone:

Out of me unworthy and unknown
The vibrations of deathless music!
"With malice toward none, with charity for all."
Out of me forgiveness of millions toward millions.
And the beneficent face of a nation
Shining with justice and truth.
I am Ann Rutledge who sleeps beneath these weeds.
Beloved of Abraham Lincoln,
Wedded of him, not through union,
But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic
From the dust of my bosom!

Poem by
Edgar Lee Masters

The Henry Clay Ginkgo Tree(Ginkgo Biloba)
Fossilized ginkgo leaves are very common in North America. They became extinct during the ice age and none were here when Columbus arrived. Because the ginkgo is the world's most disease-free tree, it was a great favorite for explorers to take to unexplored lands. It is believed that its origin was in China. Missionaries carried it to Japan where it became a great favorite.

An Asiatic diplomat gave Henry Clay a small box containing ginkgo seeds about 1840. They had been re-introduced into America about 1780 in Bertram Gardens in Philadelphia. Clay planted some of the seeds at his home, Ashland, in Lexington, Kentucky and gave the rest to friends. The originals still exist as stately giants. About 1980 cuttings were taken from the original Clay trees and propagated in the Klein nursery in Crestwood, Kentucky.

Moon Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis)
This American sycamore is grown from one of the small number of seeds carried to the moon and back by Astronaut Stuart Roosa on the February 1971 Apollo 14 flight.

The seeds were germinated by a U.S. Forest Service scientist at NASA's manned space center at Houston, Texas. The project and the planting of the tree is intended to focus attention on the past and future importance of trees and forest resources.

Eisenhower Catalpa
Tree grown from seeds taken from one in the yard of Eisenhower's last home located on Wheatfield Road near Gettysburg, PA.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) was thirty-fourth president of the United States, and famed general in the European Theatre of WWII.

Lincoln White Oak
This is a seedling from a white oak growing in Albion, Illinois. A monument is there erected by the Illinois State Historical Society states:
"Abraham Lincoln spoke in the oak grove of William Pickering north of here in the 1840 presidential campaign."

MacArthur Catalpa
Tree grown from seeds collected at this birthplace at MacArthur on East Ninth Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. At one time there were also MacArthur White Pines and MacArthur Sycamores in the historic trees inventory.

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was American General of the Army, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific (World War II), and head of the Occupational Forces in Japan (1945-1951), and United Nations' Forces in Korea (1950-51).

Ingalls Cottonwood
From Pepin, Wisconsin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of The Little House on the Prairie books.

Jackson Magnolia
From a tree planted on the White House lawn in 1830 by Andrew Jackson. The original tree can be seen on the back of twenty dollar bills. LeMaster and Klein also had a Jackson Sycamore in their inventory which was also started from a tree at his birthplace known as “The Hermitage” Nashville, TN.

Clinton Oak
Bill Clinton home, Little Rock, AR

Sultans Hanging Sycamore (aka Sultans Palace Sycamore)
This tree is grown from seeds taken from a sycamore at the Sultan’s Palace in Istanbul Turkey in the fall of 1988. The tree was used to hang political enemies and is on the guided tour of the city. (known plantings include Clear Creek Park in Shelbyville, KY, Ballard HS in Louisville, and the DeSoto, MO tree museum)

Gone with the Wind Oak
Old Mill, Little Rock, AR (not to be confused with the Gone with the Wind Redbud)

Hippocratic Oath Sycamore
The Hippocratic Oath has been the foundation of medical ideals through the ages. It was first administered in the shade of a sycamore tree on the Greek island of Cos in the Dodecanese Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Hippocrates is known as the “father of medicine” and lived around 400 B.C. The island is the site where the first Hippocratic Oath was taken by a group of doctors in 400 A.D.

Washington White Plains Sycamore
The Heritage Park tree is a descendant of an original marking the headquarters of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War battle of White Plains, NY in October of 1776.

Jenny Lind Maple
Born Stockholm Sweden in 1820, died in England in 1887. She was known as the “Swedish Nightingale” and whose US tour was said to be bigger than the Beatles invasion. She visited West Point, KY and stayed at the Inn of the city founder James Young. She sang from the steps of the inn during her tour of 1851. (Stan LeMaster had two letters relating to Sweden, one was a thank you letter for some Johnny Appleseed seeds he sent to Stockholm, the other a letter from a Michigan 4H member who was going to Sweden and hoped to gather seeds.)

Earhart Maple
From the “Famous Flyer” Amelia Earhart birthplace. The seeds are from a tree near the front porch of her home which is located at 223 N. Terrace, Atchison, KS.

Sherman Sycamore (aka “APPOMATTOX Sycamore”)
From the site of Civil War surrender – Appomattox VA. (There is also a Sherman Maple planted at West Point, KY)

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. ~Chinese Proverb
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The Historical Tree Project: A Living Legacy by Ken Lemaster is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.