Oak is the Official U.S. National Tree

Voted the United States' Favorite Tree

Angel Oak
Panorama view of Angle Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina. Piriya Photography / Getty Images

The mighty oak tree was voted the United States' favorite tree in a National Arbor Day Foundation poll taken in 2001. Nearly five years later, a Congressional passage and a presidential signing of a historic bill made it the official national tree of the United States in late 2004. America's national tree is the mighty oak.

The Congressional Passage of the Official National Tree

"Having oak as our national tree is in keeping with the wishes of the hundreds of thousands of people who helped choose this striking symbol of our nation’s great strength," said John Rosenow, the president of The National Arbor Day Foundation.

The oak was selected during a four-month-long open voting process hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation. From the first day of voting, oak was the people’s clear choice, finishing with more than 101,000 votes, compared to almost 81,000 for the magnificent runner-up, the redwood. Rounding out the top five were the dogwood, maple, and pine.

The Voting Process

People were invited to vote for one of 21 candidate trees, based on broad tree categories (general) that included the state trees of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each voter also had the option to write in any other tree selection they preferred.

Advocates of the oak praised its diversity, with more than 60 species growing in the United States, making oaks America’s most widespread hardwood tree. There is an oak species that grows naturally in nearly every state in the continental U.S. 

Why Oak Trees Are so Important

Individual oaks have long played a part in many important American historical events, from Abraham Lincoln’s use of the Salt River Ford Oak as a marker in crossing a river near Homer, Illinois, to Andrew Jackson taking shelter under Louisiana’s Sunnybrook Oaks on his way to the Battle of New Orleans. In the annals of military history, "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution, took its nickname from the strength of its live oak hull, famous for repelling British cannonballs.

Uses for oak tree wood are of major importance and in high demand as a commercially harvested tree species. Oak has an extremely dense wood and resists insects and fungal attacks because of its high tannic acid content. It saws even and true with beautiful grain desired for building the best furniture and cabinets along with the durability necessary for fine flooring. It is a perfect wood for long-lasting timbers for building, perfect planking for shipbuilding and the barrel staves used for storing and aging fine whiskey spirits.