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What trees to plant this NC Arbor Day to replenish what has been lost over the years

Pine is the official state tree of North Carolina, but the variety of tree species that grow in the state are endless, even in the metro area.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This year marks the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, which typically falls on the last Friday in April. 

The national tree-planting holiday is now celebrated in all 50 states, but in North Carolina, Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday after March 15 because summer's heat starts to hit the area if people wait any longer.

The simple act of planting a tree has deep roots in the Tar Heel State.

“Pride in the [tree] canopy, but also trying to restore and give back to the environment a bit where we do so much development in removing trees," arborist Matt Betz with Davey Tree said. "A lot of it is necessary, but if you can go and replenish in certain areas it’s a great thing, and Charlotte does well at that."

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Pine is the official state tree of North Carolina, but the variety of tree species that grow in the state are endless, even in the metro area, according to Betz.

“The stadium is a good example of how they introduced different species of trees," Betz mentioned. "Pine trees and live oaks to kind of restore what has been lost over the years."

Credit: WCNC

Aside from its natural beauty, a healthy tree provides clean air, shade, and habitat for wildlife.

“It’s more significant that you focus on what area you have to work with [when planting trees], water conditions, shade conditions," Betz explained. "Anything native [like] oaks, pine, redbuds are going to do great in this area."

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But for those who want to plant a tree and see quick results, Betz recommends planting the state flower -- dogwoods -- or redbuds or something more ornamental.

"If you plant an oak, maple, or poplar, it’s going to take longer for that tree to develop,” Betz said.  

And when it comes to thriving, trees love the Carolinas. According to the North Carolina Forest Service, as of 2004, an eastern white pine in Jackson County is the tallest tree in the state, measuring at 180 feet.

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TreesCharlotte, in partnership with the city of Charlotte, will give away more than 150 canopy builders to Queen City residents on North Carolina Arbor Day 2022. For those who didn't get in on that deal, TreesCharlotte also offers free trees or trees that cost $10-$20, depending on neighborhood median income. Rules on how to get those trees are outlined on their website.

Despite when the state Arbor Day or the national Arbor Day falls, late fall is typically the best time to plant in the Charlotte area.

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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